nep-ict New Economics Papers
on Information and Communication Technologies
Issue of 2020‒04‒27
seven papers chosen by
Marek Giebel
Universität Dortmund

  1. Manufacturing Export and ICT Infrastructure in West Africa: Investigating the Roles of Economic and Political Institutions By Ibukun Beecroft; Evans S. Osabuohien; Uchenna R. Efobi; Isaiah Olurinola; Romanus A. Osabohien
  2. The Increasing Deflationary Influence of Consumer Digital Access Services By David M. Byrne; Carol Corrado
  3. Social Distancing, Internet Access and Inequality By Lesley Chiou; Catherine Tucker
  4. The role of interactive radio programming in advancing women’s empowerment and crop and dietary diversity: Mixed methods evidence from Malawi By Ragasa, Catherine; Mzungu, Diston; Kalagho, Kenan; Kazembe, Cynthia
  5. COVID-19_Insights from Innovation Economists By Younes, George Abi; Ayoubi, Charles; Ballester, Omar; Cristelli, Gabriele; de Rassenfosse, Gaetan; Foray, Dominique; Gaule, Patrick; Pellegrino, Gabriele; van den Heuvel, Matthias; Webster, Beth
  6. Construction Value Chains and Their Productivity Growth By Kuusi, Tero; Junnonen, Juha-Matti; Kulvik, Martti
  7. State, development and efficiency of digitalization in Bulgarian agriculture By Bachev, Hrabrin

  1. By: Ibukun Beecroft (CEPDeR, Covenant University, Ota, Nigeria); Evans S. Osabuohien (CEPDeR, Covenant University, Ota, Nigeria); Uchenna R. Efobi (CEPDeR, Covenant University, Ota, Nigeria); Isaiah Olurinola (Covenant University, Ota, Ogun State, Nigeria); Romanus A. Osabohien (CEPDeR, Covenant University, Ota, Nigeria)
    Abstract: Investment in ICT infrastructure development is crucial to international trade through its provision of reliable interconnectedness via communication. This can be augmented via institutional intervention, which addresses opportunistic or rent-seeking behaviours of ICT infrastructure providers and reduces operational costs, among others. However, ICT infrastructural provision in West Africa remains low, necessitating the current drive by the regional economic community (ECOWAS) to make some advancement in this regard for enhanced trade outcomes of members. With the aim of unbundling institutional framework in the infrastructure-export nexus, this study empirically examines the relationship between manufacturing export and ICT infrastructure and articulates how economic and political institutions influence such interaction. Focusing on 14 West African countries, the study uses the Systems Generalised Method of Moments (SGMM) technique to address possible issues of endogeneity and reverse causality. The results reveal that in the face of improved economic and political institutions, particularly those related to enforcement of contracts, the influence of ICT infrastructure in strengthening the exporting capacity from the manufacturing sector is greater. In addition, some measures of economic and political institutions matter more than others. The study recommends that ECOWAS countries promote better institutional quality, particularly in terms of transparency, accountability, corruption control, regulatory quality and the rule of law.
    Keywords: Dynamic panel data; Infrastructural provision; Infrastructural development; Institutional framework; Institutional quality; Manufacturing export; Manufacturing value added
    JEL: F14 O14 O17 O43 P45
    Date: 2019–01
  2. By: David M. Byrne; Carol Corrado
    Abstract: Consumer digital access services—internet, mobile phone, cable TV, and streaming—accounted for over 2 percent of U.S. household consumption in 2018. We construct prices for these services using direct measures of volume (data transmitted, talk time, and hours of programming). Our price index fell 12 percent per year from 1988 to 2018 while official prices moved up modestly. Using our digital services index, we estimate total personal consumption expenditure (PCE) prices have risen nearly 1/2 percentage point slower than the official index since 2008. Importantly, the spread between alternative and official PCE price inflation has increased noticeably over time.
    Keywords: Price measurement; Consumer digital services; Innovation; Information and Communication Technology (ICT); National accounting
    JEL: E31 L86 O33
    Date: 2020–02–26
  3. By: Lesley Chiou; Catherine Tucker
    Abstract: This paper measures the role of the diffusion of high-speed Internet on an individual's ability to self-isolate during a global pandemic. We use data that tracks 20 million mobile devices and their movements across physical locations, and whether the mobile devices leave their homes that day. We show that while income is correlated with differences in the ability to stay at home, the unequal diffusion of high-speed Internet in homes across regions drives much of this observed income effect. We examine compliance with state-level directives to avoid leaving your home. Devices in regions with either high-income or high-speed Internet are less likely to leave their homes after such a directive. However, the combination of having both high income and high-speed Internet appears to be the biggest driver of propensity to stay at home. Our results suggest that the digital divide---or the fact that income and home Internet access are correlated---appears to explain much inequality we observe in people's ability to self-isolate.
    JEL: L96 L98 M15
    Date: 2020–04
  4. By: Ragasa, Catherine; Mzungu, Diston; Kalagho, Kenan; Kazembe, Cynthia
    Abstract: The study assesses the effect of interactive radio programming on women’s empowerment and agricultural development, employing nationally representative household panel data and qualitative interviews in Malawi. Four major findings can be highlighted. First, radio programming is the preferred source of agricultural and nutrition advice among many subpopulations: younger women and men used radio more than other sources for their agricultural information needs, while younger and older men used radio more than other sources for nutrition education. Second, results show a positive impact of radio programming on technology awareness but a limited impact on actual adoption of most agricultural practices being promoted, except crop residue incorporation. Third, results show positive impacts on dietary diversity and adoption of other nutrition practices among the rural population. Fourth, results show a strong association between access to interactive radio programming and women’s and men’s empowerment scores. The association is greater for women’s empowerment and younger men’s empowerment, the latter being the most disempowered group in the sample.
    Keywords: MALAWI; SOUTHERN AFRICA; AFRICA SOUTH OF SAHARA; AFRICA; empowerment; gender; women; radio; telecommunications; diet; crops; Information and Communication Technologies (icts); technology; agricultural extension; diversification; mixed model method; technology adoption; dietary diversity; mixed methods
    Date: 2020
  5. By: Younes, George Abi; Ayoubi, Charles; Ballester, Omar; Cristelli, Gabriele; de Rassenfosse, Gaetan; Foray, Dominique; Gaule, Patrick; Pellegrino, Gabriele; van den Heuvel, Matthias; Webster, Beth
    Abstract: The present document provides the take of innovation economists on the current pandemic. It is addressed to the general public and focuses on questions related to the Science, Technology, and Innovation (STI) ecosystem. It does not present new research findings. Instead, it provides a reading of current real-world developments using economic reasoning and relying on existing economic research. The first part of the report explains the root causes for a general underinvestment in Research and Development (R&D), with a particular focus on vaccines. These causes include an insufficient demand for vaccines in normal times and the very characteristics of R&D. Governments can intervene to mitigate these problems, but government intervention comes with its own set of issues. We discuss three of them, namely free riding, setting research priorities, and acting on scientific knowledge. The second part discusses several aspects related to current STI policy reactions. First, we observe a sizable shift of funds towards research on SARS-CoV-2. Aren’t we wasting money by allocating so much of it on one single scientific problem? Using the concept of the ‘elasticity of science,’ we argue that we are far from a situation where additional funding would represent a waste of money. Second, we also observe an unprecedented level of cooperation among researchers but also an intense competition to find therapeutic solutions and vaccines. We seek to make sense of this apparent antonymy, highlighting how both cooperative and competitive forces might accelerate research. Third, we focus on one policy tool, namely patents, and we discuss whether the existence of patents hampers the search for a solution. We argue that it might, but we provide ways in which patents can be beneficial. They can accelerate research (such as through patent pools) or ensure greater access to innovations (such as with compulsory licensing). Fourth, we notice that the whole STI ecosystem has been rapidly refocusing on SARS-CoV-2 in a way similar to mission-oriented R&D (MOR) programs such as the Manhattan Project in the 1940s. We highlight the fundamental differences between MOR and the present situation. Today’s response is characterized by a proliferation of a wide range of innovative solutions offered by a complex set of institutions and actors with great intellectual freedom and decentralized competition. The third part of the report assesses some potential long-term impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. We firstly discuss its impact on R&D investment. We explain how innovation might be negatively affected by a prolonged economic downturn and highlight the crucial role of stimulus packages in confronting the recession. We also address the influence of the crisis on ICT, arguing that it has been a formidable catalyst for ICT adoption. Next, we focus on clean technologies, another major societal challenge besides the pandemic. There are strong reasons for why cleantech investment may suffer. However, the crisis also offers significant opportunities to accelerate the green transition. Finally, we focus on open science, in particular on open access and open data. The current crisis could be a catalyst for the adoption of FAIR (Findable, Accessible, Interoperable, and Reusable) Data Practices. The last part of the report offers some concluding thoughts. The STI policy response cannot be limited to the urgent need for ‘technological fixes.’ A second line of response involves the production of new knowledge to prevent outbreaks (ex-ante) or mitigate their effects (ex-post). Furthermore, the current crisis is a reminder that all branches of science matter. The pandemic has many facets, and a significant number of scientific disciplines can contribute to dealing with it. We conclude with a forward-looking note, arguing that the most substantial impact of the pandemic may lie outside of the public health realm or the science system. It offers a unique opportunity to adapt the set of rules that govern our society.
    Date: 2020–04–14
  6. By: Kuusi, Tero; Junnonen, Juha-Matti; Kulvik, Martti
    Abstract: Abstract The construction industry has suffered from low growth in recent decades. Motivated by the economic importance of the industry, we revisit the construction productivity puzzle by analyzing the construction value chains of 12 European countries with data from the World Input–Output and EU KLEMS databases. We decompose construction-related value-added and productivity contributions to the construction industry and the rest of the value chain, and show that the traditional focus on the construction industry is restrictive. There is a substantial amount of construction-related value-added generated in other industries, and the productivity growth in the construction value chains has, for the most part, been seen in them. Furthermore, we show that there is a strong, long-term relationship between construction-related patents and the improvement of total factor productivity in the value chains, but the value chains typically suffer from low efficiency in the use of information technology.
    Keywords: Construction, Productivity, Global value chains, Organization of production, Production management, Industrial structure and structural change
    JEL: D24 L16 L23 M11
    Date: 2020–04–23
  7. By: Bachev, Hrabrin
    Abstract: Despite its big theoretical and practical importance in Bulgaria there are no comprehensive analysis of the state and evolution of digitalization in agriculture and rural areas. The goal of this study is to analyze the state, development and efficiency of digitalization in the agrarian sphere in Bulgaria, specify major trends in that area, compare the situation with other EU countries, identify main problems, and make recommendation for improving policies in the next programing period. Analysis has found out that in recent years there is considerable improvement of the access of Bulgarian households to internet as well as a significant increase in the persons using internet for relations with public institutions and trading goods and services. Nevertheless, Bulgaria is quite behind from other EU members in regards to introduction of digital technologies in the economy and society taking one of the last places in EU in terms of Integral Index for Introduction of Digital Technologies in the Economy and Society – DESI. There is a great variation on the extent of digitalization in different subsectors of agriculture, farms of different juridical type and size, and different regions of the country. Most agricultural holdings are not aware with the content of digital agriculture as 14% apply modern digital technologies. Major obstacles for introduction of digital technologies are qualification of employees, amount of required investment, unclear economic benefits, and data security. Main areas where state administration actions are required are: support of measures for supplementary training of labor, tax preferences in planning of actions and digitalization of activity, stimulation of young specialists, introduction of internationally recognized processes of standardization and certification, adaptation of legislation in the area of data protection, and securing reliable and high speed networks.
    Keywords: digitalisation, agriculture, rural, Bulgaria, AKIS, EU CAP
    JEL: Q1 Q12 Q13 Q15 Q16 Q18
    Date: 2020–03

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