Hoda Selim was the discussant for two papers falling under the macroeconomic theme at the ERF 20th Annual Conference. The first paper entitled ‘Iran’s inflation Experience: Demand Pressures, External Shocks, and Supply Constraints‘ co-authored by Magda Kandil and Ida Mirzaie, showcased the Iranian inflation experience, pressures, shocks and constraints. Although Iran is an oil producing country, and oil brings in a lot of liquidity and money from outside to the domestic market, inflationary pressures have heightened.[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gyAmE9LPlis]
Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) play a key role in the economic structure of developing countries. Which makes sense considering that they are mostly over-populated, their governments are low on budgets and inequality of opportunities is only natural. Economically speaking, SMEs constitute a major source of employment and generate significant domestic and export earnings (OECD, 2004).
Dr. Mona Said (Professor of Economics at the American University in Cairo) discusses two of the papers presented in a parallel session during the second day of the ERF 20th Annual Conference, looking at the upgrade and formalization of small and medium enterprises (SMEs) in MENA. The papers presented complementary evidence on the importance of certain factors, such as firm size, sector and degree of education.[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UaVtkXKi3YI]
The concept of supply and demand applies to almost every aspect of economics, as well as everyday life for that matter. There are always two sides to every situation, and the labor market is no different; there is a supply of labor and there is a demand by employers. The first Labor and Human Development ERF annual conference session features two papers tackling the effect of macroeconomic and trade variables on the labor market (i.e. the demand side).
Dr. Ragui Assaad (ERF research fellow and professor at the Humphrey School of Public Affairs, University of Minnesota) argues that this is a very welcome focus because most of the work in the MENA region has been on the supply side; to help people determine whether they want to participate or not, what their qualifications for the labor market are, etc. On the other hand, there is much less research from the demand side looking at what firms do in the labor market and how economic and trade policies affect the market.[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vPoWy8spmnI]
Why do people need to identify themselves with the law? What kind of effect do education, location and religion have on the way people react towards legal reforms? How do women in Morocco react in response to legal reforms? Is religion an obstacle to pro-women legal reforms?
These questions were addressed by Imane Chaara, Member of the Centre of Research in Economics of Development – University of Namur, in her paper entitled “Pro-women legal reform in Morocco: Is religion an obstacle?”.
Individuals with low education in Egypt, are subject to one job career which gives them very little opportunity for improving life standards. This was one of the findings of the paper Structural labor market transitions and wage dispersion in Egypt by Chaimaa Yassine, discussed at the session on Labor market dynamics at the ERF’s 18th Annual Conference.
For Insan Tunali, University of Minnesota and ERF, who chaired the session, the paper indicates that arrival rates of offers for workers inEgypt are generally higher when unemployed than when employed.
He added that the paper studies labor market differentials across the different educational groups in Egypt showing that the wide variation in frictional transition parameters across these groups help in explaining persistent unemployment and wage differentials especially among the very high educated.
The second paper discussed in the session Labor mobility between the formal/informal divide inTurkey: evidence from individual level data, by Aysit Tansel and Elif Oznur Acar, implements the mobility analysis to Turkish Labor markets with a specific emphasis on informality. He added that persistence in the area where one starts from is the pattern in Turkey.
Tunali added that the study takes a labor mobility analysis in the context of formal/informal division in Turkey. One of the interesting findings was that Turkish women do not have much of a chance to move out of informal sectors if they start out there.
On the second day of the RF’s 18th Annual Conference , we caught up with Omniea Helmy, the Chairperson at a parallel session on Economic Growth in Turkey and the MENA region. Two papers were discussed in the meeting, the first one titled, An Applied Endogenous Growth Model with Human Knowledge Capital Accumulation: Application to Turkish Economy and the second Threshold Effect of Inflation on Growth: Evidence from MENA Region.
In the second day of the ERF’s 18th Annual Conference one parallel sessions examined the topic of Globalization, Labor Demand and Technological Upgrading.
Two papers were discussed. The first paper, Globalization and Movement up the Technological Ladder: Evidence for Jordan and Tunisia Using Detailed Export Databases submitted by Ndiame Diop and Sofiane Ghali. It focused on the performance of each country, the extent to which they are moving up the technological ladder, and some success stories identified in both countries.
The second paper, Impact of Trade Reforms in Tunisia on the Elasticity of Labor Demand by Rim Mouelhi and Monia Ghazali, distinguishes the labor force into skilled and unskilled ones, in order to analyze the effect of trade policies on Tunisian labor demand.