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Hites Ahir, Hendre Garbers, Mattia Coppo, Mr. Giovanni Melina, Mr. Futoshi Narita, Ms. Filiz D Unsal, Vivian Malta, Xin Tang, Daniel Gurara, Luis-Felipe Zanna, Linda G. Venable, Mr. Kangni R Kpodar, and Mr. Chris Papageorgiou
Despite strong economic growth since 2000, many low-income countries (LICs) still face numerous macroeconomic challenges, even prior to the COVID-19 pandemic. Despite the deceleration in real GDP growth during the 2008 global financial crisis, LICs on average saw 4.5 percent of real GDP growth during 2000 to 2014, making progress in economic convergence toward higher-income countries. However, the commodity price collapse in 2014–15 hit many commodity-exporting LICs and highlighted their vulnerabilities due to the limited extent of economic diversification. Furthermore, LICs are currently facing a crisis like no other—COVID-19, which requires careful policymaking to save lives and livelihoods in LICs, informed by policy debate and thoughtful research tailored to the COVID-19 situation. There are also other challenges beyond COVID-19, such as climate change, high levels of public debt burdens, and persistent structural issues.
International Monetary Fund. European Dept.
This Selected Issues paper on Estonia examines impact of assessing competitiveness and exposure to shocks integrating global value chains (GVCs). This paper strengthens the analytical underpinnings of competitiveness assessments and exposure to shocks by incorporating GVCs. Standard real effective exchange rates (REER) indexes assume trade is only in final goods. However, like most European economies, Estonia is highly integrated into GVCs. This implies that assessments of competitiveness should consider trade in value added. Based on a structural model, the paper assesses competitiveness and exposure to trade shocks accounting for the GVC participation in Estonia. The analysis using a REER index considering the GVC architecture suggests potential competitiveness problems in Estonia. The paper also estimates the impact of overvaluation (and appreciation) of the GVC related REER measure on value added export and real GDP growth and finds observable effects. Further, trade tension induced tariff hikes may have important costs for value added produced in Estonia.
Rasmané Ouedraogo and Idrissa Ouedraogo
We examine the impact of gender equality on electoral violence in Africa using micro-level data from the sixth round of Afrobarometer surveys. The sample covers 30 countries. We find that gender equality is associated with lower electoral violence. Quantitatively, our estimates show that an increase in female-to-male labor force participation ratio by 1 percentage point is correlated with a reduction of the probability of electoral violence across the continent by around 4.2 percentage points. Our results are robust to alternative ways to measure electoral violence and gender equality, as well as to alternative specifications. The findings of this paper support the long-standing view that women empowerment contributes to the reduction of violence and underscore the urgency of addressing gender inequality in Africa.
International Monetary Fund. Communications Department
This issue of Finance & Development discusses need of empowering women, which is critical for the world’s economy and people. Unequal or unfair treatment can marginalize women and hinder their participation as productive individuals contributing to society and the economy in invaluable ways. The rich tapestry of organizations and individuals who can make a difference to ensure women have equal opportunities; there is a crucial role for policymakers. They can use their positions to design policies that help women and girls’ access what they need for a fulfilling life—including education, health services, safe transportation, legal protection against harassment, finance, and flexible working arrangements. The IMF recommends these kinds of policy measures to its member countries—and works with many governments to examine how policies affect women. The IMF’s 189 member countries face many different challenges, but empowering women remains a common denominator and a global imperative for all those who care about fairness and diversity, but also productivity and growth of societies and economies that are more inclusive.
International Monetary Fund. African Dept.

Staff Report for the 2018 Article IV Consultation and Seventh Review Under the Policy Support Instrument and Request for Modification of Assessment Criteria--Debt Sustainability Analysis-Press Release; Staff Report; and Statement by the Executive Director for Senegal

International Monetary Fund. African Dept.
This Selected Issues paper aims at providing an empirical underpinning to fiscal policy reforms implemented by the authorities by estimating the size of fiscal multipliers in Cameroon, using a novel long quarterly data set and looking separately at the impact of changes in revenue, and government consumption and investment. The impact of government spending and taxes depends on country characteristics and the stage of the business cycle. The analysis shows that revenue and capital expenditure multipliers in Cameroon are small and comparable to those of other sub-Saharan African and low-income countries. The revenue multiplier is close to nil which implies that revenue-based fiscal consolidation would be less harmful to growth in the medium term. Compared to its peers in sub-Saharan Africa, Cameroon’s revenue multiplier is smaller as is its tax burden relative to the regional average. Conversely, government expenditure can more significantly affect output in the medium term, although the consumption multiplier is unexpectedly much higher than the investment one.
Goksu Aslan, Corinne Deléchat, Ms. Monique Newiak, and Mr. Fan Yang
We investigate the link between gender inequality in financial inclusion and income inequality, with three contributions to the recent literature. First, using a micro-dataset covering 146,000 individuals in over 140 countries, we construct novel, synthetic indices of the intensity of financial inclusion at the individual and country level. Second, we derive the distribution of individual financial access “scores” across countries to document a “Kuznets”-curve in financial inclusion. Third, cross-country regressions confirm that our measure of inequality in financial access is significantly related to income inequality, above and beyond other factors previously highlighted in the literature.
International Monetary Fund. African Dept.