nep-ara New Economics Papers
on MENA - Middle East and North Africa
Issue of 2021‒03‒22
eleven papers chosen by
Paul Makdissi
Université d’Ottawa

  1. Uncertain prospects for sovereign wealth funds of Gulf countries By Julien Maire; Adnan Mazarei; Edwin M. Truman
  2. Okun’s Law under the Demographic Dynamics of the Turkish Labor Market By Evren Erdogan Cosar; Ayse Arzu Yavuz
  3. Weapons of discontent? Sketching a research agenda on social accountability in the Arab Middle East and North Africa By Vloeberghs, W.P.; Bergh, S.I.
  4. The unemployment-labor force participation linkage in Iran's women labor market By Cheratian, Iman; Goltabar, Saleh; Calá, Carla Daniela
  5. Online Child Pornography: A New Challenge for the Society By Mohamed Chawki
  6. Potential Growth in Turkey: Sources and Trends By Orhun Sevinc; Ufuk Demiroglu; Emre Cakir; E. Meltem Bastan
  7. New Social Accounting Matrix for Jordan: A 2015 Nexus project Social Accounting Matrix By Raouf, Mariam; Randriamamonjy, Josée; Elsabbagh, Dalia; Wiebelt, Manfred
  8. Lending Cycles and Real Outcomes: Costs of Political Misalignment By Cagatay Bircan; Orkun Saka
  9. Saudi EFL Learners Choice of Language in their Emails to Instructors By Tahani Alabdali
  10. Quantifying the Impact of Economic Sanctions on International Trade in the Energy and Mining Sectors By Serge Shikher; Mario Larch; Constantinos Syropoulos; Yoto V. Yotov
  11. Uncovering progress of health information management practices: evidence from Kuwait’s public health care system By Alhuwail, Dari

  1. By: Julien Maire (Peterson Institute for International Economics); Adnan Mazarei (Peterson Institute for International Economics); Edwin M. Truman (Peterson Institute for International Economics)
    Abstract: Among the best-known sovereign wealth funds (SWFs)—government-owned or controlled investment vehicles—are those funded by hydrocarbon revenues in the member economies of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), which comprises all the Arab countries in the Persian Gulf except Iraq, namely Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates. This Policy Brief compares the GCC SWFs with each other and with other funds in terms of their transparency and accountability on the fifth SWF scoreboard, available here. Several factors, including the decline in oil prices in recent years, have slowed the growth of the GCC’s SWFs. This slower growth could further diminish their governance and transparency standards, which are already weaker than those of other SWFs. Efforts to improve their governance and accountability will be important to garner public support for these SWFs.
    Date: 2021–02
  2. By: Evren Erdogan Cosar; Ayse Arzu Yavuz
    Abstract: This study examines the asymmetric relationships between demographic characteristics of labor market variables and Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in the Turkish economy. Both expansions and recessions are considered in a Markov Switching (MS) model, using quarterly data between 1989 and 2019. Okun’s coefficients are estimated for the different age groups, genders and education levels. The results reveal that men are more likely to lose their jobs during recessions in Turkey whereas unemployment rates for 25-39 year-olds and those with at least university degrees are the least affected groups. There is also asymmetry within and between states across the demographic groups due to GDP phases. The study also investigates the gender dynamics of labor force participation rates (LFPR) as a fundamental determinant of unemployment rate. According to the MS models, LFPR responds significantly and positively to GDP expansions for men whereas it is significant and negative for women. That is, as economic activity begins to recover after a recession, women leave the labor force as secondary income earners.
    Keywords: Okun’s law, Demographic composition, Turkey
    JEL: E32 J21 J64
    Date: 2021
  3. By: Vloeberghs, W.P.; Bergh, S.I.
    Abstract: Put simply, accountability is about saying what you do and doing what you say. This paper explores the concept of social accountability (SA), which we understand here as any citizen-led action beyond elections that aims to enhance the accountability of state actors. We approach SA in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region from a perspective that blends development studies with comparative politics and Middle East studies. First, we trace the notion of accountability as a governance concept. Secondly, we discuss dominant theories on SA as a mechanism to improve public service delivery. Thirdly, we identify three main categories of social accountability initiatives (SAI’s) and summarize their respective strengths and weaknesses. We then observe how the scholarly literature on SA has largely bypassed the MENA region. We argue that this neglect is underserved and surprising, given the many initiatives that emerged across the region during the decade following the 2011 uprisings. In the final part of the paper, we propose three thematic axes that form a future research agenda which we hope is relevant for researchers based in the region as well as for (international, regional and national) policy makers and practitioners.
    Keywords: activism, advocacy, Arab world, authoritarianism, brokers, citizen engagement, civil society, clientelism, corruption, empowerment, MENA, participatory governance, service delivery, social accountability, state-society relations, transparency
    Date: 2021–03–10
  4. By: Cheratian, Iman; Goltabar, Saleh; Calá, Carla Daniela
    Abstract: During recent years, the long-run relationship between the unemployment rate and the labor force participation rate has been examined in depth in developed and developing economies. This paper explores this relationship for Iranian women in 31 provinces from 2005Q2 to 2019Q1. Using the time series cointegration approach, our findings show that in 25 provinces there is no long-run equilibrium relationship between female unemployment and participation rate. Furthermore, regarding the low power of the univariate cointegration approach, we consider a panel version of the cointegration tests developed by Westerlund (2006). The results of the panel cointegration test also reveal no long-run relationship between the two variables. Therefore, the unemployment invariance hypothesis is supported for the case of women in Iran.
    Keywords: Desempleo; Mujeres Trabajadoras; Participación de los Trabajadores; Mercado de Trabajo;
    Date: 2020–11
  5. By: Mohamed Chawki (International Association of Cybercrime Prevention, Paris, France)
    Abstract: Controlling online child pornography has always been a challenge for the global community. The introduction, growth, and utilisation of information and communication technologies have been accompanied by an increase in illegal activities. With respect to cyberspace, children’s massive online presence and the rise of child pornography as a business are forcing all countries to adopt strong laws and collaborate internationally to tackle this threat. Recent online search trends indicate a manifold increase in the search for child pornographic material. Although there is a diversity of opinions on the definition of child pornography and the appropriate punishment, it is widely accepted that the Internet has exposed more children to pedophiles, mostly from poor countries. With respect to Egypt, almost 55% of the population has access to the Internet, and most Internet users access social networking sites. On such a basis, this article seeks to address and analyse the following issues: Firstly, the impact of ICTs on the spread of online child pornographic material and the techniques used by offenders. Secondly, an analysis of the existing legislative and regulatory framework and their efficiency in combating this form of organised crime will be provided, taking Egypt as a case study. Finally, the paper will conclude by discussing some recommendations that should be taken to protect children and society and minimise the risk of utilising ICTs in illegal criminal activities, especially with respect to child pornography.
    Keywords: Child pornography, Criminalization, Pedophiles, Sexual misconduct, Egypt
    Date: 2021–01
  6. By: Orhun Sevinc; Ufuk Demiroglu; Emre Cakir; E. Meltem Bastan
    Abstract: This paper estimates potential growth in Turkey using a production function estimation approach. Our approach aims to measure the inputs of production in the most detailed fashion that is possible and empirically addresses concepts of sustainable potential growth for Turkey. While developing measures of the sources of potential growth, we provide a thorough discussion of the estimated trends in labor force participation, capital growth by asset type, and total factor productivity since the mid-2000s. Our results suggest that the key driver of potential growth has increasingly been capital accumulation. The declining trend in the positive TFP growth stands out as the key area of improvement for potential growth.
    Keywords: Potential growth, Labor force participation, Productivity, Capital accumulation
    JEL: E1 J21 O4
    Date: 2021
  7. By: Raouf, Mariam; Randriamamonjy, Josée; Elsabbagh, Dalia; Wiebelt, Manfred
    Abstract: This new Social Accounting Matrix (SAM) for Jordan is a snapshot representation of the Jordanian economy in which productive activities, factors of production, and economic transactions between the main agents, including households, government, and the rest of the world, are illustrated in a circular flow. It has been constructed using IFPRI's Nexus format, which uses common data standards, procedures, and classification systems for constructing and updating national SAMs. This new SAM for Jordan is expected to be an important dataset for the Arab (Agricultural) Investment for Development Analyzer (AIDA), which is tool based on computable general equilibrium (CGE) model analyses. AIDA was developed to inform national and regional development strategies by providing evidence on the impact of agricultural investments on economic development.
    Keywords: JORDAN, MIDDLE EAST, ASIA, models, crops, livestock, mining, households, capital, income, commodities, agricultural products, government, labour, Social Accounting Matrix (SAM), Agriculture Investment for Development Analyzer (AIDA), factors of production
    Date: 2021
  8. By: Cagatay Bircan; Orkun Saka
    Abstract: We document a strong political cycle in bank credit and industry outcomes in Turkey. In line with theories of tactical redistribution, state-owned banks systematically adjust their lending around local elections compared with private banks in the same province based on electoral competition and political alignment of incumbent mayors. This effect only exists in corporate lending and creates credit constraints for firms in opposition areas, which suffer drops in assets, employment and sales but not firm entry. Financial resources and factors of production are misallocated as more effient provinces and industries suffer the greatest constraints, reducing aggregate productivity.
    Keywords: bank credit, electoral cycle, state-owned banks, misallocation
    JEL: G21 D72 D73 P16
    Date: 2021
  9. By: Tahani Alabdali (Imam Mohammed bin Saud Islamic University, Saudi Arabia)
    Abstract: This paper investigates the linguistic preferences of Saudi female university students in relation to their choice of language (L1 or L2) in the emails they send to their instructors. The sample included a total of 47 emails that were sent by the students of the College of Languages and Translation IMSIU to their instructors. Students in CLT are required to use the English language in the emails they send to their instructors, and the use of the Arabic language is not acceptable. However, the analysis shows that they used Arabic in 19 emails (almost 41%). Our assumption is that students tend to use Arabic when they are planning to communicate particular speech acts. The analysis revealed that the speech acts that were communicated most frequently in these emails were: greeting, complimenting, apologizing, requesting (information), requesting (favour), and complaining. The results show that greeting and apologizing are the most frequently used speech acts in both languages. The least performed speech act in both languages was that of complaining. However, the most frequently used two speech acts had a higher percentage in the Arabic (L1) sample, with 89.5% of the total number of Arabic emails including these two types. To understand the students' perspective, a self-reflection questionnaire was distributed and collected, in which students were asked to pick their preferred language of email communication in relation to each of the six speech acts. The results of the questionnaire revealed that Arabic was the majority's choice in performing the speech acts of complaining and apologizing. This study and similar ones can shed the light on areas of weakness in EFL students' pragmatic performance, hence giving more attention to ways of improving them.
    Keywords: pragmatic performance, speech acts production, EFL, language choice
    Date: 2021–01
  10. By: Serge Shikher; Mario Larch; Constantinos Syropoulos; Yoto V. Yotov
    Abstract: Capitalizing on the latest developments in the gravity literature, we utilize two new datasets on sanctions and trade to study the impact of economic sanctions on international trade in the mining sector, which includes oil and natural gas. We demonstrate that the gravity equation is well suited to model bilateral trade in mining and find that sanctions have been effective in impeding mining trade. Our analysis reveals that complete trade sanctions have reduced bilateral mining trade by about 44 percent on average. We also document the presence of significant heterogeneity in the effects of sanctions on mining trade across mining industries and across sanction episodes/cases, depending on the sanctioning and sanctioned countries, the type of sanctions used, and the direction of trade flows. We take a close look at the impact of recent sanctions on Iran and Russia.
    Keywords: structural gravity, sanctions, mining, oil, trade effects
    JEL: F10 F13 F14 F50 F51 H50 N40
    Date: 2021
  11. By: Alhuwail, Dari
    Abstract: Background: The burden of chronic non-communicable diseases is a challenge for many countries that provide universal health coverage and is necessitating healthcare reform. Health information technology (IT) solutions can aid healthcare reform efforts. However, without proper information management, these efforts are futile. In this study, we examine Kuwait as a case of a high per-capita GDP country that faces information management challenges to draw insights that can be generalised to other developed countries. Objectives: This study aims to: (i) uncover the status quo of information management practices in public organisations providing secondary and tertiary care through comparing their progress in compliance with the information management standards across the years; and (ii) offer recommendations to improve information management practices. Method: This study analyses qualitative and quantitative accreditation-related data pertaining to compliance with the information management standard at all secondary and tertiary care public hospitals over two accreditation cycles. Results: Overall, public hospitals are making positive progress in their compliance with the information management standard. However, issues exist with (i) effectively and efficiently transmitting data; (ii) developing and implementing an information management plan; (iii) involving the appropriate stakeholders in selecting health IT solutions; and (iv) access to the Internet by staff and patients. Conclusion: The evidence underscores the benefits of complying with predetermined criteria and illustrates the overall improvements in information management practices. Without proper management of information at healthcare facilities, achieving safe and effective patient care is futile. The absence or lack of appropriate management of information can jeopardise patient safety through wrong prescriptions for example. The role of health IT in supporting good quality care and healthcare reform efforts cannot be ignored or sidelined any more in modern healthcare delivery. Implications: With the rapid adoption of digital health systems, the role of health information management leaders should not be undervalued. Embracing health IT solutions with strong information management practices can aid healthcare reform efforts.
    JEL: J50
    Date: 2021–01–01

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