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  • Author: Risto Rönkkö, Stuart Rutherford, Kunal Sen
  • Publication Date: 03-2021
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: United Nations University
  • Abstract: In this paper, we examine the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the livelihoods of the poor. We use an unusually rich data set from a ‘financial diaries’ study known as the Hrishipara Daily Diaries Project. The data set tracks the economic and financial transactions of 60 individuals and their families in a semi-rural setting in Bangladesh on a real-time basis from October 2019 to September 2020. We document individual diarists’ behavioural responses to COVID-19, which reveal the varied experiences of the poor during the pandemic. We find that the pandemic and associated government lockdowns had significant negative effects on the livelihoods of the poor in our study, with financial inflows and outflows, incomes, and household expenditures below pre-pandemic levels during the pandemic period. To cope with the pandemic, households drew down on their cash reserves at home, as well as cutting down on non-food expenditures to protect their spending on food.
  • Topic: Economics, Government, Finance, Pandemic, COVID-19
  • Political Geography: Bangladesh, South Asia
  • Author: Annalena Oppel
  • Publication Date: 06-2021
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: United Nations University
  • Abstract: Community or interpersonal support as a critical source of livelihood sustenance in the Global South can exhibit unequal dynamics. An understanding of these practices is primarily tied to the conceptual space of poverty or small communities. Less is known about how social support systems might respond to structural inequalities. I address this by exploring how support practices might be shaped by inequalities in the Namibian context. I draw on primary network data to assess inequality as a social dynamic within the space of support and evaluate whether providing worse-off others corresponds to former discriminatory practices under the apartheid regime. My results suggest that inequality has normalized a sense of support as necessity for black but not white Namibians. More broadly, by recognizing differences in group practices, I evidence that exploring support practices across structural inequalities can enhance insights on the social replication of inter- and intragroup-based inequalities.
  • Topic: Economics, Race, Inequality, Social Networks
  • Political Geography: Africa, Namibia
  • 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: Deepak Nayyar
  • Publication Date: 09-2019
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: United Nations University
  • Abstract: In 1820, Asia accounted for two-thirds of world population and over half of world income. The subsequent decline of Asia was attributable to its integration with a world economy shaped by colonialism and driven by imperialism. By 1970, Asia was the poorest continent in the world, marginal except for its large population. Its demographic and social indicators, among the worst anywhere, epitomized its underdevelopment. A deep pessimism about Asia’s economic prospects, voiced by Gunnar Myrdal in Asian Drama, was widespread at the time.
  • Topic: Economics, History, Economic Growth, Economic Transformation
  • Political Geography: Asia
  • Author: Hai-Anh Dang, Peter Lanjouw
  • Publication Date: 12-2018
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: United Nations University
  • Abstract: Following the introduction of economic reforms in the early 1990s, India today is achieving unprecedented per capita growth rates. Poverty reduction has also accelerated and is justly celebrated. There is great concern, however, that this growth is being accompanied by rising inequality.
  • Topic: Economics, Reform, Inequality, Economic Growth
  • Political Geography: India, South America
  • Author: Shi Li, Terry Sicular
  • Publication Date: 12-2018
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: United Nations University
  • Abstract: In the late 1970s, China embarked on a major programme of economic transition and reform. Since then, China’s economy has been transformed from a socialist planned economy to a predominately market economy characterized by a combination of state, private, and mixed forms of ownership. Over the past forty years, household incomes have risen six-fold, poverty has declined dramatically, and in recent years a new class of ultra-rich has emerged. These developments have naturally led to questions about inequality trends in China.
  • Topic: Economics, Poverty, Reform, Income Inequality, Welfare
  • Political Geography: China, Asia
  • Author: Rachel M. Gisselquist
  • Publication Date: 02-2017
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: United Nations University
  • Abstract: Development assistance to fragile states and conflict-affected areas is a core component of peacebuilding. It includes support for the restoration of core government functions, delivery of basic services, the rule of law, and economic revitalization. Yet, while aid has been among the largest financial inflows to fragile states in recent years, its impact has been mixed. Better understanding of what works and why thus remains a core challenge for development researchers and practitioners.
  • Topic: Development, Economics, Foreign Aid, Conflict, Peace
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: Kasper Brandt, John Rand, Smriti Sharma, Finn Tarp, Neda Trifković
  • Publication Date: 11-2016
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: United Nations University
  • Abstract: This is the sixth time that the collaborative small and medium enterprise (SME) panel survey has been conducted among formal and informal manufacturing firms in Viet Nam. The results of previous survey rounds, those of 2005, 2007, 2009, 2011, and 2013 were a motive for UNU-WIDER to approve and take the lead in collaboration with the Institute of Labour Science and Social Affairs (ILSSA) of the Ministry of Labour, Invalids and Social Affairs (MOLISA), the Department of Economics (DoE) of the University of Copenhagen, and the Central Institute of Economic Management (CIEM), to implement another survey in 2015. The 2015 fieldwork behind this report consisted of face-to-face interviews that were implemented in June, July, and August. Just over 2,600 small and medium-sized non-state enterprises operating in the manufacturing sector were interviewed in ten provinces, namely the cities of Ha Noi, Hai Phong and Ho Chi Minh City (HCMC), and Ha Tay, Phu Tho, Nghe An, Quang Nam, Khanh Hoa, Lam Dong and Long An provinces. The present report is based on the information about enterprises that were interviewed since 2005 and new enterprises that were added as a replacement for those that exited the survey. The SME biannual surveys referred to above are a result of collaborative research efforts on collecting and analysing data representative of the private sector in Viet Nam. This means that not only large or formally registered enterprises are included in the survey. As such, the SME survey builds on the existing databases created through other initiatives in Viet Nam, aiming to collect data and gain an understanding of the SME dynamics in Viet Nam. The present report aims to provide researchers and policy makers with an overview of key facts from the 2015 survey round, comparing as appropriate with data from 2013 and earlier years. The report does not contain a complete description of the full range of information available in the dataset. We encourage readers to explore the questionnaires that were used in the collection of data (available online) to see all the issues addressed. Several in-depth studies of selected issues on the Vietnamese private sector economy, exploiting the database, are underway. Subsequent studies will make use of the fact that a sample of approximately 2,600 SMEs is available, including a representative panel dating back to 2005.
  • Topic: Economics, Business , Statistics, Survey
  • Political Geography: Vietnam, Southeast Asia
  • Author: Danielle Resnick
  • Publication Date: 10-2013
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: United Nations University
  • Abstract: When, why and how has foreign aid facilitated, or hindered, democracy in recipient countries? Focusing on sub-Saharan Africa, this policy brief examines the impact of foreign aid on supporting transitions from one-party to multi-party regimes, preventing democratic breakdown and the erosion of civil liberties, enhancing vertical and horizontal accountability, and enabling competitive political party systems. Particular attention is given to the trade-offs and complementarities between different types of foreign aid, namely democracy assistance and economic development aid. Select policy recommendations are offered to improve aid effectiveness at bolstering democratic trajectories within the region.
  • Topic: Civil Society, Democratization, Development, Economics, Human Rights, Political Economy, Foreign Aid
  • Political Geography: Africa
  • Author: Philip Verwimp, Wim Naudé, Tilman Brück
  • Publication Date: 04-2013
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: United Nations University
  • Abstract: Although the impacts of violent conflict on investment, production, incomes and inequality have been widely studied on an aggregate level, comparatively less is known about the more diverse impacts of such conflict at the micro (particularly firm) level. Understanding such impacts can improve policies to mitigate the human and financial costs of violent conflict in developing countries. This policy brief discusses lessons from recent studies to address this gap.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Political Violence, Economics, International Trade and Finance, War
  • Author: David M. Malone, Rohinton P. Medhora
  • Publication Date: 11-2013
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: United Nations University
  • Abstract: Notions of development have varied over time, and so an account of the international organizations concerned with its advancement must be accordingly elastic. The roots of international organizations concerned with development lie in two aspects of global inter-connectedness. The first is the propagation and management of a nascent technology for the global good. Thus were born the International Telegraph Union (ITU, now the International Telecommunication Union) in 1865 and the General Postal Union (GPU, now the Universal Postal Union) in 1874.
  • Topic: Development, Economics, Emerging Markets, International Cooperation, International Organization, Post Colonialism
  • Author: Augustin Kwasi Fosu
  • Publication Date: 01-2011
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: United Nations University
  • Abstract: The study presents recent global evidence on the transformation of economic growth to poverty reduction in developing countries, with emphasis on the role of income inequality. The focus is on the period since the early/mid-1990s when growth in these countries as a group has been relatively strong, surpassing that of the advanced economies. Both regional and country-specific data are analysed for the US$1.25 andUS$2.50 level poverty headcount ratios using the most recent World Bank data. The study finds that on average income growth has been the major driving force behind both the declines and increases in poverty. The study, however, documents substantial regional and country differences that are masked by this 'average' dominant growth story. While in the majority of countries growth was the major factor behind falling...
  • Topic: Development, Economics, Poverty, Third World
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: Peter Warr
  • Publication Date: 01-2011
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: United Nations University
  • Abstract: Thailand's development strategy has been strongly market-oriented and open to trade and investment flows with the rest of the world. Since the late 1950s, its growth performance has been outstanding. Poverty incidence has declined dramatically, but economic inequality has increased. Economic progress has been reflected in very significant improvement in non-economic indicators of well-being such as life expectancy, infant and maternal morality, and literacy. Nevertheless, the performance of the education system is chronically poor. Environmental problems and institutional failures in resource management are ongoing. Reform is needed in several areas, including political and corporate governance, regulation of industry, and in the education and health systems.
  • Topic: Development, Economics, Education, Emerging Markets, Poverty, Foreign Direct Investment
  • Political Geography: Asia, Southeast Asia
  • Author: Samuel Kobina Annim
  • Publication Date: 01-2011
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: United Nations University
  • Abstract: This paper examines the combined effect of interest rates and poverty levels of microfinance clients on loan size. Cross section data on 2,691 clients and non-clients households from Ghana is used to test the hypothesis of loan price inelasticity. Quantile regression and variants of least squares methods that explore endogeneity are employed. We find the expected inverse relationship only for the 20th to 40th quantile range. The semi-elasticity of loan amount responsiveness to a unit change in interest rate is more than proportionate and significant for the poorest group only. Market segmentation based on poverty level is suggested in targeting and sustaining microfinance clients.
  • Topic: Development, Economics, Markets, Poverty, Foreign Aid
  • Political Geography: Africa
  • Author: Konstantin M. Wacker
  • Publication Date: 01-2011
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: United Nations University
  • Abstract: This paper first shows that important economic arguments in favor of the Prebisch- Singer hypothesis of falling terms of trade of developing countries have implicitly relied on the role of multinational corporations and foreign direct investment. As of yet, the relationship between the latter and terms of trade has not been empirically investigated. In order to start closing this gap in research, data on 111 developing countries between 1980 and 2008 is analyzed using panel data methods. The empirical results suggest that there is no reason to believe multinationals' activities were responsible for a possible decrease of the developing countries' net barter terms of trade. On the contrary, foreign direct investment seems to play a positive role for developing countries' terms of trade.
  • Topic: Development, Economics, International Trade and Finance, Foreign Direct Investment
  • Author: Michael Cohen
  • Publication Date: 03-2011
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: United Nations University
  • Abstract: International narratives on Argentina's recovery from the crisis of 2001-02 tend to emphasize the role of rising commodity prices and growing demand from China. Argentina is said to have been 'lucky', saved by global demand for its agricultural exports. The international narrative has also been used by local agricultural exporters to justify their objections against higher export taxes during periods of high commodity prices. These narratives are not correct. Data on the country's recovery show that it was not led by agricultural exports but was fuelled by urban demand and production. When the Convertibility period ended and the peso was devalued in 2002, price increases for imports stimulated the production of domestic goods and services for consumers. This production in turn generated multiplier effects which supported small and medium-sized firms and helped to create many new jobs. This later produced a revival of the construction and then the manufacturing sectors as well.
  • Topic: Agriculture, Economics, International Trade and Finance, Markets, Financial Crisis
  • Political Geography: China, Argentina, Latin America
  • Author: Lissette Aliaga Linares
  • Publication Date: 03-2011
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: United Nations University
  • Abstract: Unlike in most Latin American cities, street vendors organized in farmers' markets popularly known as ferias libres in Santiago de Chile, gained legal recognition early in the twentieth century. Since then, comunas, or local municipalities, have provided vendors with individual licenses that stipulate the place and time of operations, and have defined a clear set of rules regarding customer service. However, this early legal recognition has not necessarily overcome the embedded conflict over the economic use of public space. As supermarkets become spatially positioned along the main streets within easy access of the city's transportation system, feriantes, or licensed street vendors, are being relocated in less profitable areas. Moreover, coleros, or unlicensed vendors, are still flourishing despite efforts to restrict their numbers.
  • Topic: Economics, Markets
  • Political Geography: Latin America, Chile
  • Author: Eduardo Lora, Andrew Powell
  • Publication Date: 03-2011
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: United Nations University
  • Abstract: A growing number of cities around the world have established systems of monitoring the quality of urban life. Many of those systems combine objective and subjective information and attempt to cover a wide variety of topics. This paper introduces a simple method that takes advantage of both types of information and provides criteria to identify and rank the issues of potential importance for urban dwellers. The method combines the so-called 'hedonic price' and 'life satisfaction' approaches to value public goods. Pilot case results for six Latin American cities are summarized and policy applications are discussed.
  • Topic: Economics, Urbanization
  • Political Geography: Latin America
  • Author: Mahvash Saeed Qureshi, Charalambos G. Tsangarides
  • Publication Date: 03-2011
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: United Nations University
  • Abstract: This paper revisits the link between exchange rate regimes and trade in the context of Africa's exchange rate arrangements. Applying an augmented gravity model that includes measures of currency unions and pegged regimes, the paper compares Africa's experience with that of the world. Our results suggest that both currency unions and direct pegs promote bilateral trade in Africa vis-à-vis more flexible exchange rate regimes,and that their effect is almost double for the region than that for an average country in the world sample. Further, we find evidence that the effect of conventional pegs is at least as large as that of currency unions in Africa, and that the benefits of fixed exchange rate regimes stem through channels in addition to reduced exchange rate volatility.
  • Topic: Economics, International Trade and Finance, Bilateral Relations, Monetary Policy
  • Political Geography: Africa
  • Author: Markus Brückner
  • Publication Date: 03-2011
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: United Nations University
  • Abstract: A common finding in the empirical civil war literature is that population size and per capita income are highly significant predictors of civil war incidence and onset. This paper shows that the common finding of population size and per capita income having a significant average effect on civil war risk in a world sample breaks down once country- and year-specific unobservables are accounted for. However, for Sub-Saharan Africa there continues to be a highly significant average effect of population size and per capita income on civil war risk that is robust to the use of country- and year-fixed effects and instrumental variable techniques.
  • Topic: Civil War, Demographics, Economics
  • Political Geography: Africa