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  • Author: Simeon Djankov, Pinelopi Koujianou Goldberg, Lisa Hyland, Eva (Yiwen) Zhang
  • Publication Date: 04-2021
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Peterson Institute for International Economics
  • Abstract: Despite many significant gains by women in the paid workforce in recent decades, the percentage of women participating in the labor force has remained lower than the percentage of male participants. Now, in response to the COVID-19 pandemic and the global economic downturn it precipitated, the gap in labor force participation between men and women in some economies has actually widened, with potentially damaging repercussions for women’s career prospects and pay. The pandemic has disproportionately affected sectors employing more women, such as retail stores, restaurants, and the hotel and hospitality business. An increase in family caregiving responsibilities because of school and childcare closures has also fallen on working mothers' shoulders. Both factors have pulled women out of the labor force. The authors track trends in male and female labor force participation in 43 countries and find substantial differences across countries in the way women’s participation has been affected relative to that of men. In some countries, such as Colombia, Chile, and Cyprus, the gender gap in labor force participation widened the most during the pandemic. The gender gap also widened in the United States, driving 2.5 million women from their jobs in what Vice President Kamala Harris called a “national emergency” for women. In other economies, such as Luxembourg and Lithuania, the gender gap in labor force participation, unexpectedly, shrank during the early period of the pandemic. On average, female employees have fared better in countries where women are less concentrated in the services sector, less likely to be employed as temporary workers, and where laws supported greater equality at the onset of the crisis. Greater government expenditure on childcare in the pre-COVID-19 era, however, does not appear to have insulated female workers from the damaging repercussions of the pandemic.
  • Topic: Economics, Gender Issues, Labor Issues, Women, Services, COVID-19, Empowerment
  • Political Geography: Colombia, Chile, Cyprus, Global Focus, United States of America
  • Author: Joseph E. Gagnon, Steve Kamin, John Kearns
  • Publication Date: 05-2021
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Peterson Institute for International Economics
  • Abstract: COVID-19 vaccination programs are generally understood to be a prerequisite for a return to normalcy in our social and economic lives. Emergency measures to research, test, produce, and distribute vaccines have been expensive, but increases in GDP resulting from the vaccines are expected to exceed those costs by wide margins. Few studies have quantified the economic costs and benefits of different rates of COVID-19 vaccination, however. This Policy Brief focuses on developing such a quantitative assessment for the United States; the approach may be applied to other countries as well. Two illustrative scenarios support the conclusion that most plausible options to accelerate vaccinations would have economic benefits that far exceed their costs, in addition to their more important accomplishment of saving lives. This Policy Brief shows that if, for example, the United States had adopted a more aggressive policy in 2020 of unconditional contracts with vaccine producers, the up-front cost would have been higher but thousands of lives would have been saved and economic growth would have been stronger. Instead, the federal government conditioned its contracts on the vaccines’ being proven safe and effective. The projections presented in this analysis show that even if unconditional contracts led to support for vaccines that failed the phase III trial and ultimately were not used, the cost would have been worth it.
  • Topic: Economics, Health, Crisis Management, COVID-19, Health Crisis
  • Political Geography: North America, United States of America
  • Author: Olivier Bargain, Maria C. Lo Bue
  • Publication Date: 06-2021
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: United Nations University
  • Abstract: Middle East and North Africa (MENA) countries, including Morocco, currently record the lowest rates of female labour force participation (FLFP) in the world. These rates — between 20-30% in 2019 — appear substantially low in comparison to Western countries, but also compared to low- and middle-income countries that average between 40% (Asia) and 55% (Latin America and sub-Saharan Africa).
  • Topic: Economics, Gender Issues, Women, Employment, Economic Growth
  • Political Geography: North Africa, Morocco
  • Author: Zsolt Darvas
  • Publication Date: 01-2021
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Bruegel
  • Abstract: The estimation of payments from the European Union’s COVID-19 economic recovery fund, Next Generation EU (NGEU), to each EU country in 2021-2026 involves uncertainties, yet the overall magnitudes can be estimated with a reasonable degree of precision. In contrast, estimating member states’ contributions to the repayment of EU debt (which will be issued to finance NGEU spending) is burdened with enormous difficulties, primarily related to the uncertainty of gross national income projections up to 2058. Some numerical scenarios can be put forward to illustrate the difficulties in estimating the amounts of such future contributions.
  • Topic: Economics, Governance, European Union, Macroeconomics, COVID-19
  • Political Geography: Europe
  • Author: Jake Taylor
  • Publication Date: 06-2021
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, Harvard University
  • Abstract: Tax credits for research and development are a means of incentivizing the private sector to invest their own resources on challenging problems. However, in practice, the fungibility of tax credits and other monetary elements can lead to misalignment between the public good represented by R&D and the actions of the company. In this policy brief, we consider the existing mechanism of tax credits. We see how they can encourage private sector risk-taking to enable research and development (R&D) outcomes. However, our goal is to go beyond economic growth benefits, and to include the less tangible considerations of public good and public purpose in the research and development domain. We then suggest an expansion of tax credits focused on supporting the researchers involved in the R&D and encouraging innovation in both large organizations and in startups and small businesses. This approach builds upon the existing framework of agency-led, mission-defined support of the private sector used by the U.S. government, as occurs in other programs such as America’s Seed Fund (sometimes known by its acronyms, SBIR and STTR). The integration of specific agency- and mission-focused elements to the credit system ensures that these additive credits support research and researchers whose R&D outcomes will improve the health, prosperity, and opportunity for the U.S. as a whole. Specific means of implementing this public-purpose R&D credit system under existing authorities within the executive branch are suggested, along with the public-facing mechanisms for creating and maintaining the evaluation approach of what constitutes “public purpose” as science and society progress.
  • Topic: Economics, Science and Technology, International Affairs, Tax Systems, Tax Credits
  • Political Geography: Global Focus, United States of America
  • Publication Date: 08-2021
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Future for Advanced Research and Studies (FARAS)
  • Abstract: On July 15, Khuzestan in South West Iran witnessed a range of protests against the disintegrating economic and living conditions in the country, particularly the lack of water within the province, which was called ‘water protests’ or ‘thirst protests’, This was extended to other Iranian cities outside Khuzestan. The protesters' demands evolved to demand the overthrow of the regime itself raising slogans of ‘Death to Khamenei’.
  • Topic: Economics, Water, Minorities, Protests
  • Political Geography: Iran, Middle East
  • Publication Date: 07-2021
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Future for Advanced Research and Studies (FARAS)
  • Abstract: On the Tunisia’s 64th Republic Day -Sunday, July 25, 2021- the so-called 25 July Movement called for massive protests all over the country. Consequently, many responded and started protesting in Bardo Square, near the parliament, in the capital Tunis. The protests soon spread across other governorates, such as Sousse, the coastal governorate, Sfax (in the south), and El-Kef (in the northwest). In response, President Kais Saied announced, on July 26, 2021, the dismissal of Prime Minister Hichem Mechichi and his cabinet, which consisted of 25 ministries. Saied decided to take charge of executive power until he chooses another politician to form a new government. He further suspended the current parliament and lifted the parliamentary immunity of all its members. Besides, he decided to rule by issuing decrees instead of the laws, which the parliament was supposed to pass. These decisions were announced after the emergency meeting that was chaired by president Saied, and attended by military leaders and security officials on the day the protests and rallies broke out. The protesters demanded reforming the economy, combatting corruption and terrorism, dismissing the Mechichi cabinet, and dissolving the parliament.
  • Topic: Economics, Government, Reform, Crisis Management, Ennahda Party
  • Political Geography: North Africa, Tunisia
  • Author: Tamta Gelashvili, Helge Blakkisrud, Nino Kemoklidze
  • Publication Date: 02-2021
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Norwegian Institute of International Affairs
  • Abstract: De facto states – unrecognized secessionist entities that eke out a living on the margins of the international system – are often heavily dependent on external patron states for economic aid and investment. When the parent state – the state that the de facto state seeks to break away from – responds to the secessionist attempt by imposing sanctions or economic blockades, this further exacerbates such dependency. Moreover, due to their lack of international recognition, de facto states often have limited opportunities to engage with the outside world beyond the patron and the parent state. However, closer examination of one such de facto state, Abkhazia, reveals that de facto states can enjoy some bounded independent economic agency. Abkhazia’s maneuvering between Russia as “patron,” Georgia as “parent state,” and the wider international community (here exemplified by the EU) in the sphere of trade and economic interaction has important implications for de-facto state conflict transformation.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Economics, Emerging States, Trade
  • Political Geography: Russia, Eurasia
  • Author: Jos Meester, Guido Lanfranchi
  • Publication Date: 06-2021
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Clingendael Netherlands Institute of International Relations
  • Abstract: Over the last decade, the UAE and China have vastly expanded their economic, political and military footprint in the Horn of Africa, and their actions now have the potential to shape developments in the region. Room for cooperation between Abu Dhabi and Beijing exists on issues such as maritime security, regional stability, and economic development. Moreover, the two countries’ interaction could lead to improvements in the Horn’s underdeveloped infrastructure by triggering a race to investment. Yet, development and stability in the region might suffer if the strategic interests of external players take precedence over local ones, or if local elites (mis)use external support for narrow domestic political calculations. The EU and its member states have high stakes in the Horn’s stability. To optimise their engagement, European policymakers should be aware of the implications of the Emirati and Chinese presence, and they should strive to improve cooperation among the wide range of external players active in the Horn.
  • Topic: Economics, International Cooperation, Politics, Military Affairs, Economic Development , Economic Stability
  • Political Geography: Africa, China, Asia, Horn of Africa
  • Publication Date: 06-2021
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Al Jazeera Center for Studies
  • Abstract: As long as Turkey pursues its regional ambitions, any understandings with the US and the West will necessarily have a hard ceiling. However, Ankara seems to be pursuing a more conciliatory policy in the region and in its relations with the West for both economic and strategic reasons.
  • Topic: International Relations, Economics, Bilateral Relations, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, Rapprochement, Strategic Interests , Joe Biden
  • Political Geography: Turkey, Middle East, North America, United States of America