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Mr. Ken Miyajima
Digitalization is accelerating as countries fight against the COVID-19 pandemic. In this context, the impact of mobile phone ownership on welfare (represented by consumption) is estimated for South Africa using rich household survey data in a panel format, the National Income Dynamics Study (NIDS) with 5 waves spanning 2008–17. The literature argues mobile phone ownership facilitates greater and more affordable access to information and generate welfare gains. We attempt to disentangle the two-way relationship between consumption and mobile phone ownership, which is inherently difficult, and add to the literature by investigating distributional effects. Estimated results suggest that consumption of mobile phone owners tends to be 10–20 percent above that of non-owners. Benefits tend to accrue more on individuals with relatively low levels of consumption, potentially as a greater number of new users, likely with higher marginal positive effects on consumption, and a faster rate of user cost reduction help reap greater gains.
Mr. Carlos Mulas-Granados, Richard Varghese, Vizhdan Boranova, Alice deChalendar, and Judith Wallenstein
We exploit a survey data set that contains information on how 11,000 workers across advanced and emerging market economies perceive the main forces shaping the future of work. In general, workers feel more positive than negative about automation, especially in emerging markets. We find that negative perceptions about automation are prevalent among workers who are older, poorer, more exposed to job volatility, and from countries with higher levels of robot penetration. Perceptions over automation are positively viewed by workers with higher levels of job satisfaction, higher educational attainment, and from countries with stronger labor protection. Workers with positive perceptions of automation also tend to respond that re-education and retraining will be needed to adapt to rapidly evolving skill demands. These workers expect governments to have a role in shaping the future of work through protection of labor and new forms of social benefits. The demand for protection and benefits is more significant among women and workers that have suffered job volatility.
International Monetary Fund. Communications Department
Finance & Development, March 2018
International Monetary Fund. Communications Department
Finance & Development, March 2018
International Monetary Fund. Communications Department
Finance & Development, March 2018
International Monetary Fund. Communications Department
Finance & Development, March 2018
International Monetary Fund. Communications Department
This issue focuses on recent experiences that holds lessons for when to tackle debt and when not to. Growth is picking up, and the IMF has been ratcheting up its forecasts. Government coffers are filling and, with more people at work, demand for public social support is receding. Research shows that the stimulatory effect of fiscal expansion is weak when the economy is close to capacity. Low-income economies may be at greatest risk. Traditionally, they borrowed from official creditors at below-market rates. Higher global rates could divert precious budget resources to debt servicing from crucial infrastructure projects and social services. Raising budget balances toward their medium-term targets can be achieved at little cost to economic activity. Growth-enhancing infrastructure investments and crucial social services such as health and education should be maintained. Well-designed fiscal policy can address inequality and stimulate growth.
Reda Cherif, Fuad Hasanov, and Min Zhu

Abstract

The “Gulf Falcons”—the countries of the Gulf Cooperation Council—have high living standards as a result of large income flows from oil. The decline of oil prices between summer 2014 and fall 2015 underscores the urgency for the Gulf Falcons to diversify away from their current heavy reliance on oil exports. This book discusses attempts at diversification in the Middle East and North Africa and the complex choices policymakers face. It brings together the views of academics and policymakers to offer practical advice for future efforts to increase productivity growth.

International Monetary Fund. Communications Department

Abstract

This paper discusses the role of fiscal policy and demographics. By the end of this century, about two-thirds of all countries are expected to have declining populations. This will have profound implications for economics, financial markets, social stability, and geopolitics. Fiscal policy responses and technological innovation are especially important parts of the solution. Without action, public pension and health systems will not be sustainable over the long term. The increase in life expectancy and economic welfare that came with the industrial revolution brought with it the seeds of demographic change. This is a demographic double whammy that will have major implications for economic growth, financial stability, and the public purse. With declining fertility rates, populations in some advanced economies did not just grow more slowly; they stagnated or began to shrink. IMF analysis suggests that, if everyone lived three years longer than expected, pension related costs could increase by 50 percent in both advanced and emerging economies. This would heavily affect private and public sector balance sheets and could also undermine financial stability.