nep-ara New Economics Papers
on MENA - Middle East and North Africa
Issue of 2023‒06‒12
eleven papers chosen by
Paul Makdissi
Université d’Ottawa

  1. Egypt’s Takaful Cash Transfer Program: Impacts and recommendations from the second round evaluation By El-Enbaby, Hoda; Elsabbagh, Dalia; Gilligan, Daniel O.; Karachiwalla, Naureen; Kolt, Bastien; Kurdi, Sikandra
  2. Quarterly bulletin on food price dynamics, inflation, and the food security situation in Sudan: 2021Q1- 2022Q4 [in Arabic] By Ahmed, Mosab O. M.; Siddig, Khalid
  3. West Bank and Gaza: Selected Issues By International Monetary Fund
  4. The Impact of the Covid-19 Crisis on the Health Status of the Managers of Small and Medium Enterprises in Morocco By EL Hassane AIT ALI; Mohammed Amine Tarhi
  5. Morocco: Request for an Arrangement Under the Flexible Credit Line-Press Release; Staff Report; and Statement by the Executive Director for Morocco By International Monetary Fund
  6. Jordan: Financial Sector Assessment Program-Financial System Stability Assessment By International Monetary Fund
  7. Economic complexity, exports and natural resources in the Gulf Cooperation Council By Bandeira Morais, Margarida; Iammarino, Simona; Lee, Neil
  8. Key drivers of renewable energy deployment in the MENA Region: Empirical evidence using panel quantile regression By Fateh Belaïd; Ahmed Elsayed; Anis Omri
  9. West Bank and Gaza: Report to the Ad Hoc Liaison Committee By International Monetary Fund
  10. “What’s in the middle”: Scratching beneath the surface of the middle class(es) in Brazil, Côte d’Ivoire, Turkey and Vietnam By Matthieu Clément; Eric Rougier; Jean-Philippe Berrou; François Combarnous; Dominique Darbon
  11. Monitoring poverty in a data deprived environment: The case of Lebanon This paper is motivated by the dearth of statistical capacity in the Middle East and North Africa region and the unprecedented economic collapse in Lebanon. We expand and apply a novel data augmentation technique to conduct poverty analysis when the usual data sources on income distribution are limited or unavailable. Building on available data augmentation techniques, we recover the continuous income distribution from the available data when the income variable takes the form of intervals. We expand existing techniques to derive dominance conditions for interval income data accounting for non-response. This extension allows us to run robustness checks of our empirical results by estimating the bounds of the set of admissible cumulative distribution functions. Our empirical application then analyzes poverty dynamics using first-order dominance tests on the bounds of admissible cumulative distribution functions sets and shows the importance of the proposed approach using Lebanese data. The empirical application provides a picture of poverty dynamics and insights into the politico-economic dynamics preceding and following the economic collapse. More generally, we show that the development analyst can exploit alternative data sources to conduct the much-needed poverty analysis. By Paul Makdissi; Walid Marrouch; Myra Yazbeck

  1. By: El-Enbaby, Hoda; Elsabbagh, Dalia; Gilligan, Daniel O.; Karachiwalla, Naureen; Kolt, Bastien; Kurdi, Sikandra
    Abstract: Egypt’s national cash transfer program, Takaful, and its sister program Karama covered 17 million poor beneficiaries as of 2022, about 16 percent of the Egyptian population. Takaful was designed in 2015 as a conditional cash transfer program providing income support targeted to the most vulnerable, namely poor families with children under age 18. As one of the largest programs — both in absolute terms and in terms of share of the population covered — in the wave of national cash transfer programs spreading across Africa, as well as an innovator among countries in the Middle East, Egypt’s experience has the potential to serve as a model for these regions. The International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI), in collaboration with the Ministry of Social Solidarity, conducted a first-round evaluation of the program in 2017 to estimate its effects on household well-being (Breisinger et al. 2018). That evaluation found large positive impacts on several outcomes, most notably, household consumption. The second-round evaluation, conducted in 2022, found a shift toward greater investment in physical and human capital among program beneficiaries. This brief summarizes the main findings from that second-round evaluation, noting differences from the first evaluation results and providing key recommendations.
    Keywords: EGYPT; ARAB COUNTRIES; MIDDLE EAST; NORTH AFRICA; AFRICA; poverty; income; families; households; consumption; investments; human capital; social protection; cash transfers; cash transfer programs
    Date: 2023
  2. By: Ahmed, Mosab O. M.; Siddig, Khalid
    Abstract: - Average international prices of wheat, sorghum, rice, and sugar slightly increased in Q4 of 2022 compared to Q3. Import parity prices decreased during the same period because of the reduction in the freight cost to Port Sudan. - Annual inflation2 decreased from three-digit inflation (260.6 percent) in 2022Q1 to 92.6 percent in 2022Q4. - Quarterly changes in the price of non-volatile commodities (core inflation) 3 increased slightly in Q4 compared to Q3 of 2022 due to the increase in the housing rents, education, communication, and processed food prices. - Retail prices of food commodities were relatively stable during the last two quarters of 2022 com pared to the previous quarters of 2021 and 2022. - Nominal wholesale prices of grains in Khartoum State increased gradually from 2021Q2 to reach a peak in 2022Q3, before dropping in real and nominal terms in 2022Q4. - Although the national average of causal labor daily wage was increasing over time nominally (2021Q2–2022Q4), it was decreasing in real terms in 2022Q4. - Poorer urban and rural households (bottom 40 percent) were more affected by the changes in the prices of food and beverage commodities during 2022Q4 than richer households (top 60 percent). - Blue Nile, Darfur, and Eastern regions have the highest food insecure population classified in crisis or emergency.
    Keywords: REPUBLIC OF THE SUDAN, EAST AFRICA, AFRICA SOUTH OF SAHARA, AFRICA, prices, wheat, sorghum, rice, sugar, costs, inflation, commodities, housing, education, communication, wages, households, Blue Nile River, Darfur,
    Date: 2023
  3. By: International Monetary Fund
    Abstract: Over the last two decades, the Palestinian economy did not create enough jobs to absorb new labor market entrants. This even as labor force participation rates remained stubbornly low and among the lowest in the world for Palestinian women. Female labor outcomes are particularly disappointing. For both sexes, there are high disparities in labor market outcomes across governorates and cities, reflecting geographic fragmentation and spatial mismatch between labor force and employment growth. Moreover, the gap in labor outcomes between the West Bank and Gaza has widened over time. Further facilitation of private sector job creation in high-productivity tradable services sectors could help absorb well-educated labor market entrants, while Palestinian Authority (PA) policies could raise female labor force participation and employment. But PA policies alone will not suffice to tackle job market challenges, as growth remains tepid in ambitious policy scenarios, barring easing of Israeli-imposed restrictions on the movement of people. Overall, a high elasticity of jobs to growth of 0.7 suggests improved labor market outcomes and higher growth would go hand in hand.
    Date: 2023–04–25
  4. By: EL Hassane AIT ALI (University Hassan II [Casablanca]); Mohammed Amine Tarhi (University Hassan II [Casablanca])
    Abstract: The COVID-19 pandemic has posed serious threats to the physical and mental health of the managers of small and medium enterprises (SMEs) in Morocco. The health capital of leaders is the first intangible capital of the SME, in addition, the physical and mental health of the entrepreneur is reflected in the health of the company. It has also triggered a wide range of psychological reactions such as panic, anxiety, and depression. The main objective of this study is to investigate the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on the health status of SME managers in Morocco, which will hopefully contribute to informing the intervention policies to address this challenge efficiently and effectively. So, the main question this study addresses is: what is the impact of the current crisis (pandemic Covid-19) on the health status of our entrepreneurs? In terms of methodology, two questionnaires were used, the first one concerns the measurement of the burnout of SME managers during the covid-19 pandemic, using a version of Maslach burnout inventory, and the second questionnaire ''The COVID-19 Peritraumatic Distress Index (CPDI) '', the questionnaire was adapted from the Shanghai Mental Health Centre. The data processing was carried out by SPSS, using the method: Analysis in Principal Components. The results of our study show that the risks of burnout have increased during the Covid-19 crisis, which might lead to the failure of SMEs. The Covid-19 has an impact on SME managers' health, according to our research's main findings. The burnout scale reached a mean of 26.55, with 30% representing very burned-out leaders. We found that the average depersonalization score was 11.6, which means that 45 percent of managers have mild burnout. The results of burnout are confirmed by the high personal achievement score.
    Keywords: SMEs Managers Executive health Pandemic Covid-19. JEL Classification: M20 M21 I10 Paper type: Empirical research, SMEs, Managers, Executive health, Pandemic Covid-19. JEL Classification: M20, M21, I10 Paper type: Empirical research
    Date: 2023–04–09
  5. By: International Monetary Fund
    Abstract: After a robust post-pandemic recovery in 2021, another severe drought and spillovers from Russia’s invasion of Ukraine slowed growth and raised inflation in 2022. The authorities’ policy response has been very strong, with fiscal, monetary, and financial policies appropriately calibrated to preserve macroeconomic stability while protecting the most vulnerable from the impact of the shocks. In addition, the authorities have accelerated the implementation of the vast program of structural reforms needed to make growth stronger, more resilient, and more inclusive. and made progress in further strengthening their institutional policy frameworks.
    Keywords: CPI headline inflation; higher-than-expected inflation outturn; inflation expectation; FCL arrangement; nonfood inflation; Inflation; Credit; Loans; Global; Maghreb
    Date: 2023–04–24
  6. By: International Monetary Fund
    Abstract: The banking sector dominates Jordan’s financial system, and its strength is essential to support macroeconomic stability and the peg to the U.S. dollar. The authorities have implemented measures to enhance the system’s resilience and oversight since the 2008–09 FSAP, allowing it to withstand large shocks (Global Financial Crisis, Arab Spring, war in Syria and influx of refugees, COVID-19). Global growth headwinds, high energy and food prices as well as sharply rising interest rates are pressuring nonfinancial sector balance sheets.
    Date: 2023–04–21
  7. By: Bandeira Morais, Margarida; Iammarino, Simona; Lee, Neil
    Abstract: The concept of economic complexity, introduced by Hidalgo and Hausmann {2009), suggests that countries' knowledge and capabilities can be inferred through their ability to export a wide range of products relative to the rest of the world. The associated Economic Complexity Index {ECI) has since grown in popularity as a way of predicting countries' economic growth, income inequality, and human development, among other outcomes. However, the applicability of this concept across different contexts has remained unquestioned. We argue that the unique characteristics of natural resource dependent countries are largely disregarded. Using the ECI for 179 countries from 1995 to 2019, we focus on the case of the Gulf Cooperation Council countries {GCCs), generally considered as high- income economies heavily reliant on oil and natural gas exports. While we find that the link between the ECI and subsequent economic growth observed across countries holds for the GCC and other oil-dependent countries, our analysis exposes important ways in which the ECI is affected by the high dependence on oil and its price volatility. Contrary to existing literature, we found no association between economic complexity and economic growth within countries over time. Our analysis calls for more caution when relying on economic complexity measures for policy-making and highlights the need for additional and more granular analysis of different contexts, particularly those heavily reliant on natural resources.
    Keywords: Economic Complexity Index; economic growth; natural resources; oil-dependency; GCC
    JEL: J1
    Date: 2023–05–01
  8. By: Fateh Belaïd (LEM - Lille économie management - UMR 9221 - UA - Université d'Artois - UCL - Université catholique de Lille - Université de Lille - CNRS - Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique); Ahmed Elsayed; Anis Omri
    Abstract: With the growing pressure from the adverse impact of environmental pollution and climate change, the deployment of renewable sources is becoming one of the economic priorities for governments worldwide. Despite potential gains of renewable sources, little evidence is provided in the literature about the determinants of renewable energy deployment in the MENA region. In particular, whether political stability, governance quality and financial development matter or not for unleashing the potentials of renewable energy programs. To this end, this paper aims to fill the gap by examining the impact of political stability, quality of governance and institutions, and financial development on the deployment of renewable energy production in 9 selected MENA countries using annual data over the period 1984-2014. Accordingly, an innovative panel quantile regression model with non-additive fixed effect has been developed to tackle this issue. Our findings confirm that the effect of political stability is clearly heterogeneous and supports earlier claims about the importance of political stability to foster investments in the renewable energy sector. Findings also show that financial development has a positive impact on renewable energy production. In addition, we also find that the interaction term between governance effectiveness and financial development is negative for the lower quantiles but positive for the highest quantiles. These findings support our hypotheses and suggest that political stability, governance effectiveness, and financial development are essential drivers for promoting renewable energy production in the MENA region.
    Keywords: Renewable energy, Political stability, Financial development, Governance, Panel quantile, MENA Region
    Date: 2021–06
  9. By: International Monetary Fund
    Abstract: The Palestinian economy faces myriad economic policy challenges and risks abound. The political and security situation continues to deteriorate. Public finances remain unsustainable, despite a contained 2022 fiscal deficit. The banking system has adequate capital and liquidity buffers, with stable non-performing loans, but there are signs of asset quality deterioration and weaker deposit growth, as Palestinians’ real incomes continue to erode.
    Date: 2023–04–25
  10. By: Matthieu Clément (BSE - Bordeaux Sciences Economiques - UB - Université de Bordeaux - CNRS - Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique); Eric Rougier (BSE - Bordeaux Sciences Economiques - UB - Université de Bordeaux - CNRS - Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique); Jean-Philippe Berrou (LAM - Les Afriques dans le monde - IEP Bordeaux - Sciences Po Bordeaux - Institut d'études politiques de Bordeaux - IRD - Institut de Recherche pour le Développement - Institut d'Études Politiques [IEP] - Bordeaux - UBM - Université Bordeaux Montaigne - CNRS - Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique); François Combarnous (BSE - Bordeaux Sciences Economiques - UB - Université de Bordeaux - CNRS - Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique); Dominique Darbon (LAM - Les Afriques dans le monde - IEP Bordeaux - Sciences Po Bordeaux - Institut d'études politiques de Bordeaux - IRD - Institut de Recherche pour le Développement - Institut d'Études Politiques [IEP] - Bordeaux - UBM - Université Bordeaux Montaigne - CNRS - Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique)
    Abstract: The term "middle class" is increasingly used to qualify the mass of people in developing countries who are neither poor nor rich and share consumption patterns historically associated with the western middle class. However, what differentiates them from the ideal-typical middle class, as well as the extent to which emerging middle classes differ across developing countries, has only been marginally documented by economists to date. This article proposes to scratch beneath the surface of the so-called middle-class that is burgeoning in developing countries by documenting the commonalities and differences hidden by the all-encompassing term of "middle class" for a set of developing countries exhibiting different levels of income, economic structures and socio-political systems: Brazil, Côte d'Ivoire, Turkey and Vietnam. Relying on quantitative and qualitative micro-economic data, our paper compares the objective characteristics (occupation, education, income), behavior and subjective expectations of the people standing in the middle of the income distribution in the four countries. Four main research questions structure the paper. Where is the middle? How is the middle specific? Who is in the middle? What does the middle aspire to? Results show that the middle-income group in each country covers distinct realities. Although some similar characteristics and behaviors are observable, our results reveal a strong heterogeneity within each national middle class, with no fewer than four to seven socio-economic subgroups, and strong country-specific traits as most of the subgroups are deeply rooted in the country's specific historical trajectory. In each country, our analysis also unveils a pattern of bipolarization between a rather affluent and stable middle class and a "new" or more vulnerable one. Finally, middle class members appear to be characterized by an individualist positioning and the absence of a marked political commitment, challenging the common assumption that developing countries' middle classes are agents of political change.
    Keywords: Social stratification, Income distribution, Middle class, Clustering, Qualitative surveys
    Date: 2022–10
  11. By: Paul Makdissi (Department of Economics, University of Ottawa, Canada); Walid Marrouch (Department of Economics, Lebanese American University, Lebanon); Myra Yazbeck (Department of Economics, University of Ottawa, Canada)
    Keywords: Poverty dynamics, stochastic dominance, data deprivation, Lebanon.
    Date: 2023

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