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Mr. Ali J Al-Sadiq
The outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic has helped accelerate the digitization of public services. The lockdown initiated by most governments to curb the spread of the coronavirus forced most public agencies to switch to online platforms to continue providing information and services to the public. It is widely recognized that information diffusion and communication technology play a large role in improving the quality of public services in terms of time, cost, and interface with the public, business, and other agencies. Potentially, e-government could enhance a country’s locational advantages and attract more Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) inflows. This hypothesis is tested empirically using an unbalanced panel data analysis for 178 host countries over the period 2003-2018. The results suggest that e-government stimulates the inflow of FDI.
Cristian Alonso, Mr. Andrew Berg, Siddharth Kothari, Mr. Chris Papageorgiou, and Sidra Rehman
This paper considers the implications for developing countries of a new wave of technological change that substitutes pervasively for labor. It makes simple and plausible assumptions: the AI revolution can be modeled as an increase in productivity of a distinct type of capital that substitutes closely with labor; and the only fundamental difference between the advanced and developing country is the level of TFP. This set-up is minimalist, but the resulting conclusions are powerful: improvements in the productivity of “robots” drive divergence, as advanced countries differentially benefit from their initially higher robot intensity, driven by their endogenously higher wages and stock of complementary traditional capital. In addition, capital—if internationally mobile—is pulled “uphill”, resulting in a transitional GDP decline in the developing country. In an extended model where robots substitute only for unskilled labor, the terms of trade, and hence GDP, may decline permanently for the country relatively well-endowed in unskilled labor.
Mariya Brussevich, Ms. Era Dabla-Norris, and Salma Khalid
Lockdowns imposed around the world to contain the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic are having a differential impact on economic activity and jobs. This paper presents a new index of the feasibility to work from home to investigate what types of jobs are most at risk. We estimate that over 97.3 million workers, equivalent to about 15 percent of the workforce, are at high risk of layoffs and furlough across the 35 advanced and emerging countries in our sample. Workers least likely to work remotely tend to be young, without a college education, working for non-standard contracts, employed in smaller firms, and those at the bottom of the earnings distribution, suggesting that the pandemic could exacerbate inequality. Crosscountry heterogeneity in the ability to work remotely reflects differential access to and use of technology, sectoral mix, and labor market selection. Policies should account for demographic and distributional considerations both during the crisis and in its aftermath.
Ms. Valerie Cerra, A. Fatas, and Ms. Sweta Chaman Saxena
Traditionally, economic growth and business cycles have been treated independently. However, the dependence of GDP levels on its history of shocks, what economists refer to as “hysteresis,” argues for unifying the analysis of growth and cycles. In this paper, we review the recent empirical and theoretical literature that motivate this paradigm shift. The renewed interest in hysteresis has been sparked by the persistence of the Global Financial Crisis and fears of a slow recovery from the Covid-19 crisis. The findings of the recent literature have far-reaching conceptual and policy implications. In recessions, monetary and fiscal policies need to be more active to avoid the permanent scars of a downturn. And in good times, running a high-pressure economy could have permanent positive effects.
Mr. Roberto Piazza and Yu Zheng
This paper extends the Schumpeterian model of creative destruction by allowing followers’ cost of innovation to increase in their technological distance from the leader. This assumption is motivated by the observation the more technologically ad- vanced the leader is, the harder it is for a follower to leapfrog without incurring extra cost for using leader’s patented knowledge. Under this R&D cost structure, leaders innovate to increase their technological advantage so that followers will eventually stop innovating, allowing leadership to prevail. A new steady state then emerges featuring both leaders and followers innovating in few industries with low aggregate growth.
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.
Benjamin Hilgenstock and Zsoka Koczan
The paper examines the evolution and drivers of labor force participation in European regions, focusing on the effects of trade and technology. As in the United States, rural regions within European countries saw more pronounced declines (or smaller increases) in participation than urban regions. Unlike in the United States, however, trade and technology, captured here using novel measures of initial exposures to routinization and offshoring, did not result in detachment from the workforce in European regions. Instead, regions with high initial exposures to routinization and offshoring experienced so-far larger increases in participation, likely driven by an added second worker effect.
Mr. Federico J Diez, Mr. Daniel Leigh, and Suchanan Tambunlertchai
We estimate the evolution of markups of publicly traded firms in 74 economies from 1980-2016. In advanced economies, markups have increased by an average of 39 percent since 1980. The increase is broad-based across industries and countries, and driven by the highest markup firms in each economic sector. For emerging markets and developing economies, there is less evidence of a rise in markups. We find a positive relation between firm markups and other indicators of market power, such as profits or industry concentration. Focusing on advanced economies, we investigate the relation between markups and investment, innovation, and the labor share at the firm level. We find evidence of a non-monotonic relation, with higher markups being correlated initially with increasing and then with decreasing investment and innovation rates. This non-monotonicity is more pronounced for firms that are closer to the technological frontier. More concentrated industries also feature a more negative relation between markups and investment and innovation. The association between markups and the labor share is generally negative.