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Data Papers on Demographics

The Financial Crisis and Gender: Assessing Changes in Workforce Participation for Rural India
Siddhartha K. Rastogi & Pradyun Rame Mehrotra, World Economics, March 2018
Labour market data in India shows female participation declining as GDP has increased, a phenomenon found in other East Asian economies over past two decades. This contradicts empirical observations, which argue over the feminization of the work force due to participation in global export markets, primarily driven by wage efficiency of female labour. The impact of the global financial crisis on female participation rates in rural India in 2009-10 is studied with a cross-state analysis to test theories about female unemployment in a downturn. One of the major findings is that as the formal wage difference between men and women decreases, the female participation gap increases, but more data is needed to identify critical causal factors.
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Cultural Data Mirror International Structural Economic Differences
Colin Ellis & Oleg Oleksiy, World Economics, March 2018
Data on cultural differences between countries based on the definitions developed by Geert Hofstede are now available for more than 80 countries. Data on six structural economic indicators published by the World Bank—ease of doing business, enforcement of contracts, control of corruption, government effectiveness, rule of law and political stability—are available for the same set of countries from 2000 onwards. Significant correlations between cultural factors and structural economic conditions suggest that differences across countries may persist for many years and that convergence is likely to be a very slow process. In Europe the single currency is a political project, but the extent to which cultural and structural economic differences remain suggests that the tail risk of euro fragmentation or break-up could persist for many years.
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Measuring the Elusive Middle Class and Estimating its Role in Economic Development and Democracy
Giovanna Maria Dora Dore, World Economics, June 2017
The middle class has a special role in economic, political, and social thought, but social scientists seem unable to agree on how to define or measure it. This article stems from an ongoing Johns Hopkins University project on populist and autocratic attitudes worldwide analysing World Values Survey (WVS) data to see what they reveal about the middle class–democratization nexus. Estimates suggest that between 1.4 and 2 billion people are middle class worldwide, with the largest shares found in North America (338 million), Europe (664 million), and Asia (525 million). Data from 4 consecutive rounds of the WVS for a panel of 30 countries from 1995 to 2015 do not support the theory that rising incomes are associated with increasingly open forms of political discourse and citizens’ stronger political attitudes and participation.
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Defending Development: An Evaluation of the Multidimensional Poverty Index
Raadhika Vishvesh, World Economics, March 2017
The need to define development has witnessed many attempts to condense a country’s economic deprivation into a single figure. In order to target poor citizens, it is important to classify those who are ‘non-poor’ by a poverty statistic. Crucial steps in the creation and evaluation of a poverty index in the 1980s were the World Bank’s ‘Dollar a Day’ measure (now USD1.25 a day), the creation of the Human Development Index (HDI) in 1990 and the Inequality Adjusted HDI created in 2005 as a distribution-sensitive average of the HDI. In 2010, a fundamentally different method of measuring poverty – the Multidimensional Poverty Index (MPI) – was created, which identifies numerous deprivations at the individual and household level in education, health and living standards. Unfortunately, the MPI has many flaws, including mixing stock and flow variables, a lack of data particularly, for health and education, the absence of variables and the neglect of gender, moreover it suffers from international comparability problems.
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Global Integration and World Migration
Oded Stark, World Economics, December 2016
This paper explores a theory of migration based upon a number of conjectures about the role of digital media. It proposes that a number of factors including rising use of the internet providing widespread access to global information and an intensified communication between regions and countries brought about, for example, by intensified trade links bring about expansion of people’s social space. This also expands the factors through which they compare their own living standards and social life with others. This expansion increases people’s stress and strengthens their inclination to resort to migration as a means of reducing this heightened stress. Other things held constant, the expansion of people’s social space intensifies their inclination to move across geographical space.
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Youth Employment Crisis in India
Swati Dutta, World Economics, March 2016
The global financial crisis and the subsequent uneven recovery have underscored the need for Africa’s resilience to output and other shocks originated in the rest of the world. A comparison of two regional economic communities – the East African Community (EAC) and the Southern Africa Customs Union (SACU) – suggests that deeper intra-regional, and in particular intra-industry, trade ties have contributed to the EAC’s resilience to external output shocks. More broadly, intra-regional and intra-African trade with fast-growing economies, together with geographically diversified trade links, can strengthen the capacity of African countries to absorb global output shocks. Besides helping shield countries from external shocks, intra-regional trade also supports economic diversification and participation in regional value chains.
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Did increased inequality cause the Great Recession?
Tim Congdon, World Economics, September 2015
This paper considers the basis of the thesis of left-wing economist Thomas Piketty, the author of Capital in the Twenty-First Century, that “a market economy based on private property” has “powerful forces of divergence” which are likely to increase future inequality. Although Picketty’s “fundamental contribution” has been lauded as a contribution in the field of data collection and presentation, Piketty’s book contains a number of “explanatory narratives”, with descriptions of events and the identification of possible causes. This paper considers its treatment of one such narrative, that rising inequality was a principal cause of the Great Recession of 2008 – 2010. An analysis of data on the US economy in the Great Recession shows that the behaviour of the corporate sector, unrelated to personal income inequality, was responsible for about half of the drop in demand. In contrast, the personal sector, where inequality could matter, experienced falls in residential investment and in personal consumer expenditure, but a long run investigation found no relation between the degree of inequality and the stability of the housing market. Finally, an econometric analysis of the effects of personal disposable income and debt on consumption, two variables highlighted by Picketty, showed them to have had close to no impact on the recorded change in consumption.
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Is part of the Latvian economy already in the middle-income trap?
Igors Kasjanovs, World Economics, March 2015
There are fears that the observed moderation of growth rates in Latvia suggest it may soon be stuck in a Middle Income Trap. No uniform understanding has been reached as to what a Middle Income Trap is and what signs testify to its existence. In order to avoid the danger of this trap structural reforms will be necessary which together with higher quality investment could raise Total Factor Productivity.
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How Wealthy are the Chinese?
Scott MacDonald, World Economics, December 2014
This paper looks at the available data about the number of high and ultra-high net worth individuals in China in order to assess the potential for Family Offices in the country. It also considers the possible investment preferences of the Chinese outside China as external capital controls become liberalized. The paper surveys the current state of knowledge published in Rich Lists and investment bank reports and finds that their predictions are contradictory. The paper concludes that there remains much uncertainty about the number, location and asset holdings of the wealthy individuals and families existing in China.
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The Greek Economic Crisis - is the Euro to Blame?
Andreas Hatzigeorgiou, World Economics, September 2014
The euro has been at the centre of reporting and discussion on Greece’s economic crisis. This article analyses the build-up, outbreak and development of the crisis in Greece, with the aim to answer whether the crisis can be traced to the country’s entrance into the Eurozone. By identifying a few of the underlying causes of the crisis, the article concludes that Greece’s crisis cannot be blamed on membership of the EMU. Nor is the financial meltdown and global recession of 2007–2008 to blame. Even without the euro, it is likely that Greece would have found itself in an economic crisis.
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Measuring Employment in Developing Countries
Nomaan Majid, World Economics, September 2014
This paper is concerned with measuring categories of employment that have an economy-wide meaning in the developing world. Employment has always had two interconnected sides, output and income, and these two dimensions of employment operate under very different conditions in advanced and developing economies. A developing economy is divided into two parts, organised and unorganised in respect of labour. A large amount of surplus labour exists in the unorganised part creating underemployment that manifests itself in a range of forms of employed labour. In this situation the headcount of the employed overestimates economy-wide employment; and the headcount of the unemployed seriously underestimates economy-wide unemployment.
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Managing Today’s Global Economy: The world economy as a commons
F. Gerard Adams, World Economics, June 2011
Following the path-breaking work of Coase (1960), economists have recognised the complex issues of managing jointly owned and utilised properties, so-called commons. Increasingly we see this as a problem of externalities, as with public goods. We recognise the wide range of occurrences, ranging from small public sites – visualise an overcrowded public park – to worldwide issues, like global warming, and we observe the diverse ways in which these resources are being managed or mismanaged. This article suggests that the global economy is also a commons, one whose management poses special challenges. The current world situation suggests the urgent need to recognise this fact and to devise ways to reconcile the interests of various participants in an increasingly integrated global economy.
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Measuring African GDP: The next success story?
Joe Downie, World Economics, June 2011
There is much speculation about the growth potential of African economies. But in the light of unreliable official statistics and the highly selective information often presented by investment companies with an incentive to highlight the positive, this article aims to provide some extra analysis to add to the recent widespread comments on high growth rates within the continent. Problems are noted with official economic data and the strengths of Purchasing Power Parity (PPP) measures for GDP comparisons are noted. GDP figures for Africa and five other major economic areas are analysed for the three decades to 2010 in terms of GDP growth and GDP level by decade. These figures are then viewed in per capita terms, drawing attention to significant population growth within the continent, and therefore less impressive per capita figures. A closer look at the location and distribution of economic activity within the African continent highlights the high concentration of economic activity within a small number of countries. However, it is concluded that the future prospects for African growth are still generally positive. Despite the heavy reliance on oil exports in some countries, headline GDP figures also reflect incidences of broad-based growth which looks set to continue so long as Asian demand remains high and good economic policies are pursued.
Malthus Postponed: The potential to promote palm oil production in Africa
Keith Boyfield & Inna Ali, World Economics, June 2011
The authors examine the potential to promote palm oil production in the tropical regions of sub-Saharan Africa. Given world population pressures and soaring food prices, the need to grow more food has never been more urgent. Palm oil cultivation offers one possible route to meet this demand; it also has a variety of other uses, notably biofuel. Major investors are committing substantial sums to develop palm oil plantations throughout West Africa. However, this major driver of economic growth has triggered controversy, particularly from environmental NGOs. The article assesses how far these criticisms are valid. In the process, four key challenges surrounding the development of plantation crops are identified. The REDD initiative – aimed at restricting forest land conversion for commercial purposes – is analysed and a number of practical hurdles to successful implementation are highlighted. The authors conclude that large-scale commercial plantation agriculture clearly has a major contribution to make in resolving the rapidly emerging global food crisis.
A Tale of Two Crises
Harold Lind, World Economics, June 2010
The paper argues that many erroneous conclusions derived from modelling are due to mistakes in logic rather than scientific methodology. The widely accepted models predicting the catastrophic consequences of carbon emissions, and suggesting how cuts by the developed world can prevent them, all ignore population growth and distribution, and such data are not used as independent variables in the global warming models. This casts doubt on the probability of the models, and even more on the suggested solutions, as an astonishingly high degree of accuracy in highly complex forecasts over a period of almost a century would be required, without which the extremely costly ‘solutions’ would be either unnecessary or insufficient. Over a 30-year period, forecasts of population are likely to be much more accurate than those for climate. Within such a period, population in the world’s poorest countries will almost double, leading to virtually all the disasters that are predicted to arise from global warming some decades later. Since many measures taken to avoid putative global warming are likely to exacerbate the more rapidly approaching dangers of population growth, it would appear logical to give more consideration to assisting the poorer countries rather than impoverishing the rich.
How Demographic Change can Bolster Economic Performance in Developing Countries
David E. Bloom & David Canning, World Economics, December 2003
Falling mortality rates spurred by medical, nutritional and lifestyle changes have spurred a ‘demographic transition’ in a majority of the world’s countries. As couples realize their children are more likely to survive, they need, and eventually have, fewer of them to attain their desired family size. In addition, desired fertility tends to decline as earnings opportunities improve since forgone income is such a large portion of the cost of childrearing. In the lag between mortality and fertility declines, a ‘boom’ generation is created, which is larger than both preceding and successor cohorts. As this boom generation reaches working age, the combination of a greater supply of workers and fewer dependents to support gives countries the opportunity to collect a ‘demographic dividend’. If an appropriate policy environment is in place for making the most of this opportunity, the economic benefits can be, and in many cases have been, great.
The Market for Olympic Gold Medals
Stefan Szymanski, World Economics, December 2000
From a national perspective the Sydney Olympics were almost completely predictable. Statistical modelling shows that population size and income per head provide an almost faultless method for identifying medal totals. However, it is probably the discrepancies that are most interesting– why do some countries outperform and others underperform? Cheating, through drug abuse, is one possible explanation considered in this article.
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Demographic Risk in Industrial Societies: Independent population forecasts for the G-7 countries
Sylvester J. Schieber & Paul S. Hewitt, World Economics, December 2000
There is a growing awareness of the aging of populations around the world and the implications for national retirement programs. In most cases, estimates of population aging are based on fixed assumptions about fertility, improvements in life expectancy, and immigration. In most countries, however, these factors have varied considerably in recent decades. In this analysis, the authors use population projections in the G-7 countries that capture historical patterns of fertility, longevity, and immigration and variability in those patterns over time. They find that many developed countries may be underestimating the extent of population aging they are facing and the policy changes necessary to deal with it.