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Mr. Philippe Egoume Bossogo, Mr. Jerald A Schiff, Ms. Miho Ihara, Mr. Tetsuya Konuki, and Ms. Kornelia Krajnyak

Abstract

More than a decade after the start of the transition process, unemployment rates remain in the double digits in a number of Central and Eastern European countries. That unemployment rates have failed to decline, even in countries experiencing good growth, is puzzling. In this paper the authors examine three interrelated questions: How has the transition from central planning to market economies affected labor market performance? How have labor market institutions and policies influenced developments? Why have regional differences in unemployment persisted? The authors take an eclectic methodological approach: construction of a new data set and a simple analytical model; econometric estimation; and case studies. They find that faster-performing countries have better unemployment records; that labor market policies have some, but not dominant, influence over labor market outcomes; that policies not typically viewed as labor market policies can nevertheless significantly affect labor markets; and that market processes cannot be relied on to eliminate regional differences in unemployment.

Mr. William Lee, Mr. Jorge A Chan-Lau, Ms. Dora M Iakova, Mr. Papa M N'Diaye, Ms. Tao Wang, Ida Liu, Ms. Hong Liang, and Mr. Eswar S Prasad

Abstract

This Occasional Paper provides an overview of the main challenges facing Hong Kong SAR as it continues to become more closely integrated with the mainland of China. Section I provides an overview of recent macroeconomic developments and the main policy issues in Hong Kong SAR. Section II examines various aspects of the ongoing integration with the mainland, and the associated implications for the structure of the economy, and for macroeconomic and structural policies. Section III examines the medium-term fiscal outlook under different policy scenarios and discusses alternative policy options to restore fiscal balance. Section IV reviews recent developments in the real estate sector and their macroeconomic impacts. Section V presents an econome tric analysis of deflation and its determinants. Section VI examines the factors behind, and the implications of, rising wage inequality in Hong Kong SAR. Section VII presents an overview of recent developments in the financial sector and provides an assessment of Hong Kong SAR’s prospects as an international financial center.

Mr. Benedict J. Clements, Ms. Gabriela Inchauste, Ms. Nita Thacker, Mr. Thomas William Dorsey, Mr. Shamsuddin Tareq, Mr. Emanuele Baldacci, Mr. Sanjeev Gupta, and Mr. Mark W. Plant

Abstract

In late 1999 the IMF established the Poverty Reduction and Growth Facility (PRGF) to integrate the objectives of poverty reduction and growth more fully into its operations for the poorest countries, and to base these operations on national poverty reduction strategies prepared by the country with broad participation of key stakeholders. A review of the program would be conducted two years later. This paper synthesizes two papers prepared by IMF staff: Review of the Poverty Reduction and Growth Facility: Issues and Options, and Review of the Key Features of the Poverty Reduction and Growth Facility: Staff Analyses. The paper draws on a broad range of internal and external views gathered between July 2001 and February 2002, including discussions at regional forums, meetings with donor government officials and representatives of civil society organizations, and comments of key officials in member countries with PRGF arrangements.

Mrs. Ritha S. Khemani, Mr. Sanjeev Gupta, Mr. Calvin A McDonald, Mr. Louis Dicks-Mireaux, and Marijn Verhoeven

Abstract

As part of its mandate, the IMF seeks to create the conditions necessary for sustained high-quality growth, which encompasses a broad range of elements. These include sound macroeconomic policies, growth-enhancing structural reforms, good governance, and such social policies as cost-effective social safety nets and targeted social expenditures. This paper reviews the IMF's policy advice in two key areas of social policy: social safety nets and public spending on education and health care. It was initiated as part of the work by the World Bank and IMF to strengthen the poverty focus of adjustment programs in low-income countries, in particular within the framework of the Initiative for Heavily Indebted Poor Countries (HIPCs).

Mr. Alan A. Tait and Mr. Peter S. Heller

Abstract

How many people are employed by the government? How many are employed by the central government compared with the state and local authorities? How many are employed in public enterprise? How much are they all paid? How much are they paid relative to each other, or relative to the private sector? Such questions interest people in general and economists and policymakers in particular; yet it is remarkable how little information is readily accessible on thes topics.

Mr. Peter S. Heller and Mr. Alan A. Tait

Abstract

Many studies on International tax compaisons have been undertaken since the early 1970s. While controversial, such studies have facilitated more subtle comparisons of a country's tax performance than would be afforded by focusing on its simple tax ratio.