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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.
International Monetary Fund. Middle East and Central Asia Dept.

Abstract

Countries in the Middle East, North Africa, Afghanistan, and Pakistan (MENAP) region and those in the Caucasus and Central Asia (CCA) responded to the COVID-19 pandemic with swift and stringent measures to mitigate its spread and impact but continue to face an uncertain and difficult environment. Oil exporters were particularly hard hit by a “double-whammy” of the economic impact of lockdowns and the resulting sharp decline in oil demand and prices. Containing the health crisis, cushioning income losses, and expanding social spending remain immediate priorities. However, governments must also begin to lay the groundwork for recovery and rebuilding stronger, including by addressing legacies from the crisis and strengthening inclusion.

Iana Paliova, Robert McNown, and Grant Nülle
Multidimensional assessment of human development is increasingly recognized as playing an important role in assessing well-being. The focus of analysis is on the indicators measuring the three dimensions of Human Development Index (HDI) — standard of living, education and health, and their relationship with public social spending for achieving the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. The study estimates the effects of public social spending on gross national income (GNI) per capita (in PPP in $), expected years of schooling and life expectancy for a sample of 68 countries. The relationship is robust to controlling for a variety of factors and the estimated magnitudes suggest a positive long-run effect of public educational spending on GNI per capita, public educational spending on expected years of schooling, and public health expenditures on life expectancy.
International Monetary Fund. Statistics Dept.
This Technical Assistance (TA) report focuses on four key work areas which may lead to improvement of Government Finance Statistics (GFS) for fiscal analysis, support policy making decisions in Zambia, and improve African Department surveillance. The mission found out that the Coordinating Committee, recommended in the previous TA mission, was not yet established. The mission reviewed progress on the legal and institutional arrangements supporting the compilation of GFS as a follow up from recommendations of the previous GFS TA mission and found that the legislation reforms were on track, especially regarding the Public Finance Act. The report also found that Central Statistical Office (CSO) is working on the revision of the Statistics Act to follow the new strategy for National Development of Statistics. For sustainability and consistency purposes, the mission recommended that the CSO staff produce a GFS manual for compilation and dissemination of GFS data.
Amine Hammadi, Marshall Mills, Nelson Sobrinho, Mr. Vimal V Thakoor, and Ricardo Velloso
Countries in Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) tend to lag those in most other regions in terms of governance and perceptions of corruption. Weak governance undermines economic performance through various channels, including deficiencies in government functions and distortions to economic incentives. It thus stands to reason that SSA countries could strengthen their economic performance by improving governance and reducing corruption. This paper estimates that strengthening governance and mitigating corruption in the region could be associated with large growth dividends in the long run. While the process would take considerable time and effort, moving the average SSA country governance level to the global average could increase the region’s GDP per capita growth by about 1-2 percentage points.
Reda Cherif, Fuad Hasanov, and Lichen Wang
We shed new light on the determinants of growth by tackling the blunt and weak instrument problems in the empirical growth literature. As an instrument for each endogenous variable, we propose average values of the same variable in neighboring countries. This method has the advantage of producing variable-specific and time-varying—namely, “sharp”—and strong instruments. We find that export sophistication is the only robust determinant of growth among standard growth determinants such as human capital, trade, financial development, and institutions. Our results suggest that other growth determinants may be important to the extent they help improve export sophistication.
International Monetary Fund

Abstract

This paper reports a brief description of the IMF and its activities, focusing in particular on its technical assistance (TA) activities. The report then describes in greater detail the Japan Administered Account for Selected Fund Activities (JSA)—including its objectives, size, scope, and use, as well as assessments of its activities, with a focus on fiscal year (FY) 2008—and the TA activities and scholarship programs that it finances. The IMF finances technical assistance for its member countries, devoting some 25 percent of its annual operating budget to TA work and training. Although most technical assistance is financed through internal resources, external financing from bilateral and multilateral partners has been increasing over the past few years and constitutes an important pillar. The responsibilities of the Regional Office in Tokyo include collaborative efforts between the IMF and Japan that strengthen economic prospects in the Asia-Pacific region, and also include support of various regional policy forums, such as Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation, the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, and the Pacific Islands Forum.

International Monetary Fund

Abstract

This paper presents a description of the IMF and its activities, focusing in particular on its technical assistance (TA) activities. The report then describes in greater detail the Japan Administered Account for Selected Fund Activities (JSA)—including its objectives, size, scope, and use, as well as assessments of its activities, with a focus on fiscal year (FY) 2007—and the TA activities and scholarship programs that it finances. The IMF’s technical assistance is delivered mainly by its Fiscal Affairs Department (FAD), Monetary and Capital Markets Department (MCM), and Statistics Department (STA). Japan provides grant contributions for two scholarship programs. In 1996, the Japan-IMF Scholarship Program for Advanced Studies, which is administered by the IMF Institute, was established. JSA resources can be used to cover the cost of short- and long-term TA experts and other costs associated with conducting seminars and workshops, such as room rental fees. Although TA activities financed by the JSA can take place in all areas of the world, the Japanese authorities place high priority on funding TA activities in Asia and the Pacific, Central Asia, Central and Eastern Europe, and countries of the former Soviet Union.