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  • Author: Daniel Waldenström, Jesper Roine, Henry Ohlsson
  • Publication Date: 09-2006
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: United Nations University
  • Abstract: The objective of this paper is to study the dynamics of the wealth distribution over the path of economic development. More specifically, we are interested in distinguishing between changes which seem to be country specific and characteristics shared by all countries. A historical account of the evolution of the wealth distribution in developed countries is interesting in itself, but it can also hold implications for countries that are currently in an early stage of development or in transition. The data used originates from the taxation of wealth and estates.
  • Topic: International Relations, Demographics, Economics
  • Political Geography: Europe
  • Author: André Mach, Thomas David
  • Publication Date: 09-2006
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: United Nations University
  • Abstract: This research paper discusses the role of institutions in the rapid growth and successful international integration of Switzerland during the late nineteenth and early twentieth century. In analysing the emergence and consolidation of the institutions whose existence was crucial, the paper looks both at the political institutions that managed conflicts and promoted cooperation between private and public actors and the economic institutions that, on the one hand, compensated the groups that fell behind in the developmental process (e.g., agricultural subsidies, high tolerance for domestic cartels, tariffs for some industries, institutions for labour representation) and, on the other hand, enhanced productivity. In addition, the absence of some institutions such as a patent law and an independent central bank was also crucial in the Swiss case, even though these two institutions are regarded as pre-requisites of development by today's economic orthodoxy. The paper concludes by drawing lessons for today's developing countries.
  • Topic: International Relations, Development, Economics
  • Political Geography: Europe, Switzerland
  • Author: Patrick Karl O'Brien
  • Publication Date: 07-2006
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: United Nations University
  • Abstract: New institutional economics lacks a theory of state formation which could help us to deal with the mega question of why some states became more efficient than others at establishing and and sustaining institutions. Some kind of middle range theory could be formulated based upon historical case studies. This paper considers the case of Britain and as its title suggests degrades the myth of the United Kingdom as the paradigmn example of liberalism and laisser faire. In making its precocious transition to and industrial market economy the kingom's history is best represented as a case of successful mercantilism.
  • Topic: Development, Economics, Sovereignty
  • Political Geography: Britain, United Kingdom, Europe
  • Author: Gerald Epstein
  • Publication Date: 05-2006
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: United Nations University
  • Abstract: In the last two decades, there has been a global sea change in the theory and practice of central banking. The currently dominant 'best practice' approach to central banking consists of the following: (1) central bank independence (2) a focus on inflation fighting (including adopting formal 'inflation targeting') and (3) the use of indirect methods of monetary policy (that is, short-term interest rates as opposed to direct methods such as credit ceilings). This paper argues that this neo-liberal approach to central banking is highly idiosyncratic in that, as a package, it is dramatically different from the historically dominant theory and practice of central banking, not only in the developing world, but, notably, in the now developed countries themselves. Throughout the early and recent history of central banking in the US, England, Europe, and elsewhere, financing governments, managing exchange rates, and supporting economic sectors by using 'direct methods' of intervention have been among the most important tasks of central banking and, indeed, in many cases, were among the reasons for their existence. The neo-liberal central bank policy package, then, is drastically out of step with the history and dominant practice of central banking throughout most of its history.
  • Topic: Development, Economics
  • Political Geography: United States, Europe, England
  • Author: Stephen Klasen, Kenneth Harttgen, Melanie Grosse
  • Publication Date: 04-2006
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: United Nations University
  • Abstract: In order to track progress in MDG1 and explicitly link growth, inequality, and poverty reduction, several measures of 'pro-poor growth' have been proposed in the literature and used in applied academic and policy work. These measures, particularly the ones derived from the growth incidence curve, allow a much more detailed assessment of the distributional impact of growth and its link to poverty reduction. However, there are no corresponding measures for tracking the distribution of progress in non-income dimensions of poverty, and thus the distribution of progress towards MDGs 2-7. In this paper, we propose to extend the pro-poor growth measurement to non-income dimensions of poverty (particularly health and education). We empirically illustrate the approach for Bolivia and show that it allows a much more detailed assessment of progress towards MDGs 2-7 by focusing on the distribution of progress. Furthermore, this extension also allows an explicit assessment of the linkage between progress in MDG1 and MDGs 2-7 as well as extends traditional incidence analysis by quantifying outcomes in non-income dimensions of poverty along the income distribution.
  • Topic: Development, Economics, Poverty
  • Political Geography: Europe, Bolivia
  • Author: Eric M. Uslaner
  • Publication Date: 04-2006
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: United Nations University
  • Abstract: Economic inequality provides a fertile breeding ground for corruption and, in turn, leads to further inequalities. Most corruption models focus on the institutional determinants of government dishonesty. However, such accounts are problematic. Corruption is remarkably sticky over time. There is a very powerful correlation between crossnational measures corruption in 1980 and in 2004. In contrast, measures of democracy such as the Freedom House scores are not so strongly correlated over time, and changes in corruption are unrelated to changes in institutional design. On the other hand, inequality and trust-like corruption are also sticky over time. The connection between inequality and the quality of government is not necessarily so simple. The aggregate relationships between inequality and corruption are not strong. The path from inequality to corruption may be indirect, through generalized trust, but the connection is key to understanding why some societies are more corrupt than others. This study estimates a simultaneous equation model of trust, corruption, perceptions of inequality, confidence in government, and demands for redistribution in Romania, and shows that perceptions of rising inequality and corruption lead to lower levels of trust and demands for redistribution.
  • Topic: Corruption, Economics, Government
  • Political Geography: Europe
  • Author: Fabrizio Carmignani, Abdur Chowdhury
  • Publication Date: 12-2005
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: United Nations University
  • Abstract: We study whether financial openness facilitates the economic integration of formerly centrally planned economies with the EU- 15. Two dimensions of economic integration are considered: cross-country convergence of per-capita incomes and bilateral trade in goods and services. We find that more financially open economies effectively catch-up faster and trade more with the EU-15. These integration-enhancing effects occur over and above any effect stemming from domestic financial deepening and other factors determining growth and trade.
  • Topic: Development, Economics, International Trade and Finance
  • Political Geography: Europe
  • Author: Iftekhar Hasan, Leonardo Becchetti
  • Publication Date: 12-2005
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: United Nations University
  • Abstract: We analyse two potential effects arising from regional (and with EU) integration—increased quality of institutions (including the quality of financial institutions) and, economic policies and reduced multilateral exchange rate volatility— in a conditional convergence growth framework for MENA countries. To this purpose we outline an ad hoc methodology which implements the traditional bilateral exchange rate measures to test effects of multilateral exchange rate volatility on growth of per capita GDP. Our estimates show that both factors (quality of institutions and reduction of multilateral volatility) significantly and positively affect growth and conditional convergence. We observe that MENA countries are not far from EU and OECD countries in terms of exchange rate volatility, but much below in terms of institutional quality. We finally simulate the potential effects of an improvement in institutional quality in MENA countries on their process of growth and conditional convergence. We conclude arguing that regional integration may be highly beneficial for such countries, mainly because of its effects on institutional quality.
  • Topic: Development, Economics, Regional Cooperation
  • Political Geography: Europe
  • Author: Anthony Shorrocks, Stanislav Kolenikov
  • Publication Date: 10-2003
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: United Nations University
  • Abstract: This paper applies a new decomposition technique to the study of variations in poverty across the regions of Russia. The procedure, which is based on the Shapley value in cooperative game theory, allows the deviation in regional poverty levels from the all- Russia average to be attributed to three proximate sources; mean income per capita, inequality, and local prices. Contrary to expectation, regional poverty variations turn out to be due more to differences in inequality across regions than to differences in real income per capita. However, when real income per capita is split into nominal income and price components, differences in nominal incomes emerge as more important than either inequality or price effects for the majority of regions.
  • Topic: Economics, Poverty
  • Political Geography: Russia, Europe, Asia
  • Author: Ruslan Yemtsov
  • Publication Date: 09-2003
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: United Nations University
  • Abstract: This paper analyses regional data on inequality and poverty in Russia during 1994-2000 using published series from the regionally representative Household Budget Survey. The paper finds that the share of inequality in Russia coming from the between-regions component is large (close to a third of the total inequality), growing, and accounts for most of the increase in national inequality over 1994-2000. The paper demonstrates an absence of interregional convergence in incomes across Russian regions using various techniques. On the other hand, the paper finds evidence of convergence in inequality within regions, trended towards an internationally high level. Based on these two findings, the paper projects dynamics of inequality and poverty in Russia over a ten-year time horizon. The projections show that if the observed trend continues, by 2010 the absolute majority of Russia's poor will be concentrated in a few permanently impoverished regions, while relatively more affluent regions will become virtually free of poverty. Finally, the paper relates fluctuations in inequality within regions to a set of factors classified into four broad categories: endowments and initial conditions, preferences, policies, and shocks. Among these factors short-run fluctuations of the unemployment rate are revealed as significant and strong signals of inequality.
  • Topic: Demographics, Economics, Poverty
  • Political Geography: Russia, Europe, Asia
  • Author: Alan Heston, Bettina Aten
  • Publication Date: 08-2003
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: United Nations University
  • Abstract: Accurate regional estimates of output are desired as an indicator of level of development and as a variable used to explain internal migration, demand patterns, fertility and other aspects of behaviour. This chapter explores one often neglected aspect of regional income differences, namely that due to price differences or regional purchasing power parities. When nominal regional income measures are adjusted for these price level differences they are termed real regional incomes. The preferred method of estimating regional purchasing power parities by detailed price comparisons is discussed for Brazil, the United States and the European Union. The empirical thrust of the chapter is an investigation of different methods for estimating regional real incomes based on PPP data for 167 countries and nominal regional incomes and other data for about 870 administrative areas at the subnational level. Even in their present form we believe the real income estimates provided for the geographical units present opportunities for understanding the world economic structure.
  • Topic: Development, Economics, International Trade and Finance
  • Political Geography: United States, Europe, Brazil
  • Author: Philip Martin
  • Publication Date: 04-2003
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: United Nations University
  • Abstract: This paper explains the evolution and effects of Mexico-US migration, and highlights the NAFTA approach to economic integration, viz., free up trade and investment while stepping up efforts to prevent unauthorized migration. The European Union approach is different: provide aid first, and later free up trade and migration in the expectation that moves toward convergence will ensure minimal migration because trade has become a substitute for migration. The paper concludes that NAFTA will reduce unwanted Mexico-US migration in the medium to long term, and that different initial conditions in Europe mean that there will be relatively little east-west migration when nationals of new entrant EU members achieve freedom of movement.
  • Topic: Economics, Migration
  • Political Geography: United States, Europe, Mexico
  • Author: Svetlana Glinkina, Dorothy Rosenberg
  • Publication Date: 02-2003
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: United Nations University
  • Abstract: We argue that the conflicts in the Caucasus are the result of the abrogation by the elite of the earlier, Soviet era, social contract. This process was accompanied by the collapse of the formal economy; evidenced by huge national income compression, falling public goods provision, and growing inequality and poverty. In the absence of state provision of basic amenities and governance, ordinary people are compelled to fall back on kinship ties. Declining standards of governance facilitate state-sponsored corruption and criminality in a setting where the shadow economic activity is increasingly important to individual survival strategies. Oil pipelines and the right to control the transit of goods both legal and illegal also underlie conflict in the region. Criminality has replaced ethnicity as the major motivation for conflict and conflict per se has become a lucrative source of income.
  • Topic: Economics, Ethnic Conflict, Poverty
  • Political Geography: Russia, Europe, Asia, Soviet Union
  • Author: Elisabetta Bertero, Laura Rondi
  • Publication Date: 03-2002
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: United Nations University
  • Abstract: This study examines the effect of the hardening of the budget constraint on the investment behaviour of Italian state owned enterprises (SOEs). It carries out a natural experiment that exploits the 1987 shift of budget regimes due to the pressure of European Union economic policies on the Italian government.Drawing from the theory of capital market imperfections, we apply the empirical framework for the analysis of investment-cash flow sensitivity to a panel of state-owned manufacturing firms during the period 1977-93. We parallel state firms to Anglo-Saxon public corporations which, under separation of ownership and control, are afflicted by agency problems, managerial discretion, misallocation of free cash-flow and overinvestment. We argue that, under a soft budget constraint, state firms' managerial discretion and, in particular, collusion between managers and vote-seeking politicians, lead to wasteful investment.
  • Topic: Economics, International Trade and Finance
  • Political Geography: Europe, Italy
  • Author: Elisabetta Bertero, Laura Rondi
  • Publication Date: 01-2002
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: United Nations University
  • Abstract: This paper contributes to the literature on the role of decentralization in hardening the budget constraint of public enterprises. Following Qian and Roland the study adopts a 'federalist' approach. However, it interprets federalism as the upward devolution of domestic economic policies to a supranational authority and examines its role in disciplining public enterprises operating in a soft budget regime. The methodology is a case study of the shift in budget regime in Italy in the late 1980s. The study shows that a determinant role in driving this shift was played by European economic policies. The discipline imposed by participation in the EMS, the Single Market Programme and, later, the requirements to enter the EMU pushed the Italian government toward a much tougher approach to its budget deficit.
  • Topic: Economics, Government, International Trade and Finance
  • Political Geography: Europe
  • Author: Harry Flam, Per Jansson
  • Publication Date: 04-2000
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: United Nations University
  • Abstract: The partial effect of nominal exchange rate volatility on exports from each EMU member to the rest of the EMU is estimated on annual data for 1967-97, using modern time-series methods. The long-run relations between exchange rate volatility and exports are mostly negative and in several cases insignificantly different from zero. Thus, these estimates do not provide much support for the hypothesis that the elimination of nominal exchange rate volatility will significantly increase trade within the EMU. However, the EMU will presumably lead to geographical concentration of production and therefore indirectly to increased trade within the EMU and, during a transitional stage, to increased foreign direct investment, both within the EMU and between the EMU and the rest of the world.
  • Topic: Economics, Government, International Political Economy, International Trade and Finance
  • Political Geography: Europe
  • Author: David Begg
  • Publication Date: 04-2000
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: United Nations University
  • Abstract: An interesting theory of transition must give a convincing account of structural adjustment and supply side improvement. In this paper, I discuss the incentives for government to undertake costly supply side improvement and how these relate to incentives governing the design of monetary and fiscal policy during transition. The government cares about deviations of inflation, output and government spending from their ideal levels, is subject to a budget constraint in which inflation yields some real revenue, and recognizes the distortionary effects of excess levels of taxation. Costly structural adjustment enhances future output by reducing supply side distortions.
  • Topic: Economics, Government, International Political Economy
  • Political Geography: Europe
  • Author: Thorvaldur Gylfason
  • Publication Date: 10-1999
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: United Nations University
  • Abstract: The paper begins by offering a quick glance of the Nordic economies and of some aspects of their economic growth performance and natural resource dependence since 1970. Thereafter, it reviews some of the main symptoms of the Dutch disease, and then considers whether these symptoms are observable in some of the Nordic countries in view of their abundant natural resources. The experience of Iceland and its fish seems an obvious point of departure. The paper then discusses the less obvious case of Norway and its oil (and fish!) and, at last, also reviews some possible linkages between forest resources and economic growth in Finland.
  • Topic: Economics, Environment, Government
  • Political Geography: Europe, Finland, Norway, Dutch
  • Author: Tito Bianchi
  • Publication Date: 10-1999
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: United Nations University
  • Abstract: The development literature considers associations an important economic development tool that allows producers to pursue their economic welfare collectively and through participatory means. This paper comparatively analyses the experience of three associations of agricultural producers in the underdeveloped regions of Brazil and Italy that were successful in this economic development task. Their experience, however, challenges a commonly held view about the participatory nature of associations.
  • Topic: Development, Economics
  • Political Geography: Europe, Brazil, South America, Latin America
  • Author: Abdur Chowdhury
  • Publication Date: 02-1999
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: United Nations University
  • Abstract: What started in the summer of 1997 as a regional economic and financial crisis in East and Southeast Asia had developed into a global financial crisis within the span of a year. This crisis followed the crisis in the European Monetary System in 1992–3 and the Mexican peso crisis in 1994–5. However, unlike the previous two crises, the scale and depth of the Asian crisis surprised everyone. One obvious reason for this is East and Southeast Asia's track record of economic success. Since the 1960s, no other group of countries in the world has produced more rapid economic growth or such a dramatic reduction in poverty. Given so many years of sustained economic performance the obvious question is: how could events in Asia unfold as they did?
  • Topic: Economics, International Political Economy
  • Political Geography: Europe, Asia, Southeast Asia
  • Author: Francis Kramarz
  • Publication Date: 10-1998
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: United Nations University
  • Abstract: The rapid diffusion of computers has widely changed the consequences of computer use on the labour market. While at the beginning of the eighties knowledge of computers was an obvious advantage in a career, this same knowledge is now so commonplace that the inability to use these tools is widely seen in many industries as a professional handicap. In relation to such drastic transformations, changes in the North American wage structure during the eighties in favour of the better educated have been interpreted by many analysts as evidence of skill-biased technical change. Evidence outside the US, and in particular in Europe, seems to support the idea that similar transformations affected most other labour markets.
  • Topic: Economics, Government, Science and Technology
  • Political Geography: United States, Europe