nep-ara New Economics Papers
on MENA - Middle East and North Africa
Issue of 2019‒06‒17
eight papers chosen by
Paul Makdissi
Université d’Ottawa

  1. Son Preference and Child Under Nutrition in the Arab Countries: Is There a Gender Bias Against Girls? By Sharaf, Mesbah; Rashad, Ahmed; Mansour, El-Hussien
  2. The Effect of Public Transit on Employment in Israel's Arab Society By Arnon Barak
  3. Getting to Work in Israel: Locality and Individual Effects By Tanya Suhoy; Yotam Sofer
  4. Jordan; Technical Assistance Report-Monetary and Financial Statistics Mission By International Monetary Fund
  5. On the Effects of Sanctions on Trade and Welfare: New Evidence Based on Structural Gravity and a New Database By Felbermayr, Gabriel; Syropoulos, Constantinos; Yalcin, Erdal; Yotov, Yoto
  6. Leverage Dynamics: Do Financial Development and Government Leverage Matter? Evidence from a Major Developing Economy By Ibrahim Yarba; Zehra Nuray Guner
  7. Science and innovation policies in North African Countries: Exploring challenges and opportunities By Amr Radwan
  8. A Long-Run Growth Model for Israel By Eyal Argov; Shay Tsur

  1. By: Sharaf, Mesbah (University of Alberta, Department of Economics); Rashad, Ahmed (Government of Dubai); Mansour, El-Hussien (City University of New York)
    Abstract: Although son preference has been demonstrated in the MENA region with different manifestations and at several phases of human development, the literature remains sparse with studies that examined the early childhood phase. The current study aims to explore the presence of a gender bias in child nutrition status and its association with maternal son preference in three Arab countries; namely, Egypt, Jordan, and Yemen on which limited research has been conducted. Child nutritional status is measured using the Height-for-Age z-score (HAZ). To examine the presence of gender bias across the entire nutritional distribution, we utilized a quantile regression framework which characterize the heterogeneous association of each determinant across the different percentiles of the nutrition distribution. We use data from the most recent rounds of the Demographic and Health Survey on a nationally representative sample of children aged 0-4 years, for which we observe their health measures. The multivariate analyses include a set of HAZ determinants that are widely used in the literature. Descriptive statistics show that 21.5% of the mothers have son preference in Yemen compared to 19.10% in Jordan and 13.26% in Egypt. Results of the baseline OLS model demonstrate a robust pro-girl nutrition bias in the three countries. However, results of the quantile regression model show that this pro-girl nutrition bias is only prevalent at the lower segment of the conditional HAZ distribution for Jordan and Yemen and is prevalent across the whole conditional HAZ distribution for Egypt. We also find no statistically significant association between maternal son preference and gender bias in child nutrition in the three countries. Although son preference is manifested in several phases of human development in the MENA region, the current study finds no nutritional bias against girls in the examined countries at early childhood.
    Keywords: child malnutrition; son preference; socio-demographic characteristics; quantile regression; Egypt; Jordan; Yemen
    JEL: I14 J13 J16
    Date: 2019–06–06
  2. By: Arnon Barak (Bank of Israel)
    Abstract: The Arab population is characterized by low employment rates, particularly among women, due to cultural characteristics and structural barriers. A common argument is that one of these barriers is the lack of transit access to places of employment, due to the low level of public transit service in the Arab localities. This study examines that argument by looking at the reform in public transit that affected many Arab localities between 2010 and 2015 to varying degrees and at various times. In order to identify the reform’s effect on employment, we use, for the first time in Israel, administrative data regarding trips on bus lines in the Arab localities, and distinguish between people who benefited from access to a private vehicle and those who did not, assuming that the employment decisions of the latter are more sensitive to the level of service. The results of the study show that public transit has a weak effect on employment rates among the Arab population. In particular, we did not find that the reform led women to join the labor force. However, it did help some working women continue to work—educated women aged 30–50 with no access to a private vehicle, a group that comprises about 8 percent of all working-age Arab women (20-64). If 10 bus trips per day are added to the locality—similar to the average increase in recent years—the chance that such a woman will remain employed increases by about 0.5 percent. We also found that the improvement in service helps older men (aged 40–64) with no access to a private vehicle to integrate into the labor market, and that in this case, the effect is even slightly greater—about 0.7 percent. This group comprises about 8 percent of all Arab working-age men (20–64). The findings of the study support the argument that in order to increase employment rates among the Arab population, other barriers must be removed, and public transit is, at the very most, a complementary factor in this regard. Improving public transit helps women and men who have overcome structural and cultural barriers and are on the verge of employment. Beyond that, it is reasonable to assume that the reform improved the quality of life in the Arab community in other ways. The number of passengers increased significantly, which shows that the population used public transit for various needs and benefited from its expansion, since it reduces the cost of travel in terms of time and money. The study was conducted with limited available data, and relates only to the additional service between 2010 and 2015. Since it is not likely that the additional service is immediately fully reflected in employment, some of the ramifications of the improved service, which has expanded significantly in the years since then, may not be reflected in this study.​
    Date: 2019–03
  3. By: Tanya Suhoy (Bank of Israel); Yotam Sofer (Bank of Israel)
    Abstract: We use Social Survey data for 2014–16 and Google Maps data to study the distribution of employees in Israel by their travel modes—and in particular, their dependence on private vehicles. The analysis was conducted from two perspectives: one allows geographical mapping of the localities in Israel by their accessibility to job localities via public transportation (relative to private vehicle), and the second examines, at the individual data level, the impact of the accessibility and of individual characteristics on the choice of travel mode. Mapping Israeli localities by an index of relative accessibility via public transportation to workplaces, calculated in this paper, indicates notable gaps. The more distant home localities are from the metropolises’ core, the less relative accessibility there is. In most localities in the periphery—and particularly in Arab localities—the relative accessibility is low due to the limited supply of public transit. In small Jewish localities in the periphery, accessibility is low, but high socioeconomic levels of these localities may indicate that the low accessibility derives from residents’ preference for private vehicles (given the level of public transportation that can be provided to such localities). In ultra-Orthodox cities and localities, the relative accessibility is high. In many localities with a lower socioeconomic background—particularly in the Arab sector—the relative accessibility is low, while in tandem there are organized shuttle services provided by employers. This mode is efficient in the sense of distance covered in a given time. However, a lack of alternatives creates dependence on such shuttle transportation, which reduces the residents’ employment possibilities and creates among them a dependence on a small number of employers. Analyzing individual effects on the travel mode (using the Discrete Choice Model) given a limited number of alternatives indicates a small (but statistically significant) effect of the trip’s travel time. However, the proximity of bus/train stations and frequency of service markedly increase the probability of choosing those modes of transportation, and reduce the use of private vehicles. In contrast, car maintenance benefits and a company car lead to the choice of private vehicles. The findings also indicate a correlation between a low socioeconomic level (in terms of wages, schooling, and housing density) and a greater tendency to use a bus, and a low attractiveness of the bus mode for upper income deciles. The probability of choosing a bus is markedly lower among private vehicle owners and among workers who are eligible for car maintenance benefits from their employer. Concerning trains, the findings indicate a higher readiness to choose them, when the train is available, both among vehicle owners and among other commuters.​
    Date: 2019–03
  4. By: International Monetary Fund
    Abstract: In response to a request from the Central Bank of Jordan (CBJ), and with the support of the International Monetary Fund’s (IMF) Middle East and Central Asia Department (MCD), a monetary and financial statistics (MFS) technical assistance (TA) mission visited Amman during June 24–July 8, 2018.1 The purpose of the mission was to work with the staff of the CBJ to: (i) introduce the standardized report form (SRF) for the central bank (CB); (ii) introduce the SRF for the other depository corporations (ODCs); (iii) ensure proper classification and sectoring, in accordance with the methodology of the Monetary and Financial Statistics Manual and Compilation Guide (MFSMCG); (iv) agree on an operating plan for the CBJ to commence regular reporting of the SRFs; and (v) discuss the possible scheduling of a TA mission on the financial soundness indicators (FSIs) in Fiscal Year 2019.
    Date: 2019–05–21
  5. By: Felbermayr, Gabriel (Kiel Institute, Kiel University); Syropoulos, Constantinos (School of Economics, Drexel University & CESifo.); Yalcin, Erdal (Konstanz University of Applied Sciences & CESifo); Yotov, Yoto (School of Economics, Drexel University & CESifo & ifo Institute & ERI-BAS)
    Abstract: Using a new, global data base covering the years 1950 to 2015, we study the impact of sanctions on international trade and welfare. We make use of the rich dimensionality of our data and of the latest developments in the structural gravity literature. Starting with a broad evaluation by sanction type, we carefully investigate the case of Iran. Effects are significant but also widely heterogeneous across sanctioning countries. Moreover, they depend on the direction of trade. We also perform a counterfactual analysis which translates our partial equilibrium sanction estimates into heterogeneous but intuitive general equilibrium.
    Keywords: Sanctions; Effectiveness of Sanctions; Structural Gravity
    JEL: F13 F14 F51
    Date: 2019–06–17
  6. By: Ibrahim Yarba; Zehra Nuray Guner
    Abstract: This study analyses leverage dynamics of Turkish non-financial firms over the last 20 years using a confidential and unique firm-level dataset. Results of dynamic panel estimations reveal that financial development fosters corporate leverage while government indebtedness inhibits it. Both impacts are more pronounced for private firms rather than public firms. Besides, even though improvements in financial development foster long-term debt usage for both SMEs and large firms, this impact seems stronger for SMEs. Conspicuously, results reveal that SMEs suffer much more than large firms in crowding-out periods of government leverage while both SMEs and large firms benefit in crowding-in periods. Moreover, higher business risk hinders corporate leverage of private firms and SMEs, which is not the case for either large firms or public firms. Results are robust to alternative firm size classification schemes and alternative model specifications.
    Keywords: Leverage dynamics, Financial development, Government leverage, Capital structure, Dynamic panel regression
    JEL: G31 G38 H32 O16
    Date: 2019
  7. By: Amr Radwan (Academy of Scientific Research & Technology)
    Abstract: Effective science, technology and innovation (STI) policies and strategies reflect a country's successful contribution to scientific advancement. While the economic and geopolitical framework of many North African Countries (NACs) transformed enormously during the past decades, their relevant policies and performance were not responsive enough in adapting to these dynamics. This review is meant to highlight the current development and evolution of NAC's STI policies as well as similarities and identified common societal challenges within NACs. It focusses on the nexus approach to water, energy and food. The findings of this review suggest that the existing reform and development of the STI system in NACs require reorientation towards higher socioeconomic relevance and innovation focus accompanied by legislative measures, effective monitoring and evaluation tools as well as engagement of relevant stakeholders and the adequate leverage of sufficient strategic investments.
    Keywords: Science policy,innovation ecosystem,North Africa,North African Countries,technology development
    Date: 2018–09–30
  8. By: Eyal Argov (Bank of Israel); Shay Tsur (Bank of Israel)
    Abstract: This paper describes the project of developing a long-term growth model to be used by the staff of the Bank of Israel. The purpose of the model is to forecast GDP growth over a horizon of approximately 50 years given various assumptions, and to evaluate how different exogenous developments, or policy steps, are expected to affect the long-run growth rate. The model is composed of five distinct blocks, each focused on a different factor of production or productivity. The blocks draw on different modeling approaches along the trade off between theoretical, detailed and empirical advantages. The baseline forecast indicates that the future growth rate of GDP and GDP per capita are expected to be lower than historical averages, mainly due to future demographic developments and the exhaustion of significant growth drivers that operated in the past.​
    Date: 2019–03

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