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  • Author: Shujie Yao, Zhongwei Han, Genfu Feng
  • Publication Date: 04-2008
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: United Nations University
  • Abstract: Since China joined the WTO in 2001, the pressure for bank reforms has mounted as China ought to fully open up its financial market to foreign competition by 2006. Efficiency is key for domestic banks to survive in a liberalised environment, but it appears that the last hope for raising bank efficiency is through ownership reform. Whether ownership reform and foreign competition can solve China's banking problem remains to be tested. This paper aims to answer this question through using a non-parametric approach to analyse the efficiency changes of 15 large commercial banks during 1998-2005. We find that ownership reform and foreign competition have forced the Chinese commercial banks to improve performance, as their total factor productivity rose by 5.6 per cent per annum. This coincides with the recent bullish Chinese stock markets led by three listed state-owned commercial banks. Despite such encouraging results, we remain cautious about the future of the Chinese banks, as the good results may have been artificially created with massive government support and the fundamentals of the banks may be still weak.
  • Topic: Economics, International Trade and Finance
  • Political Geography: China, Asia
  • Author: Calum G. Turvey, Rong Kong
  • Publication Date: 05-2008
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: United Nations University
  • Abstract: This paper investigates the economic conditions of rural households in China. Historical survey data indicate that over 80 per cent of rural households earn less than 4,500 yuan in net disposable income each year, that for the vast majority of rural households disposable income is insufficient to meet food consumption needs, and that in terms of economic growth rural households are receiving an ever decreasing percentage of China's growing economy with rural household incomes being only 31 per cent of urban household income in 2004.
  • Topic: Economics, Poverty
  • Political Geography: China, Asia
  • Author: Marc-Andreas Muendler, Jennifer Pamela Poole, Ernesto Aguayo-Tellez
  • Publication Date: 03-2008
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: United Nations University
  • Abstract: Comprehensive linked employer{employee data allow us to study the relationship between domestic formal sector migration in Brazil and globalization. Considerable worker flows in the formal labor market between 1997 and 2001 are directed toward lower income regions|the reverse flows of those often posited for informal labor markets. Estimation of the worker's multi-choice migration problem shows that previously unobserved employer covariates are significant predictors associated with migration flows. These results support the idea that globalization acts on internal migration through job stability at exporting establishments and employment opportunities at locations with a concentration of foreign owned establishments. A 1% increase in exporter employment predicts a 0.3% reduced probability of migration. A 1% increase in the concentration of foreign owned establishments at potential destinations is associated with a 0.2% increase in the migration rate.
  • Topic: Economics, Globalization, Markets, Migration, Labor Issues
  • Political Geography: Latin America
  • Author: Renwei Zhao, Shi Li
  • Publication Date: 01-2007
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: United Nations University
  • Abstract: This paper investigates some major changes in the wealth distribution in China using the data from two national household surveys conducted in 1995 and 2002. The surveys collected rich information on household wealth and its components, enabling a detailed analysis of changes in wealth distribution among Chinese households. Our analysis indicates that the wealth distribution in China as a whole became much more unequal in 2002 than it was in 1995. The housing reform, in which public apartments were sold to urban households at extremely low prices, has accelerated the accumulation of wealth among urban households on the one hand, and widened the wealth gap between urban and rural areas on the other.
  • Topic: Demographics, Development, Economics
  • Political Geography: China, Asia
  • Author: Guanghua Wan
  • Publication Date: 01-2007
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: United Nations University
  • Abstract: This paper depicts the trend of regional inequality in rural China for the period 1985- 2002. The total inequality is decomposed into the so-called within- and between components when China is divided into three regional belts (east, central and west). A regression-based accounting framework is then used to explore root sources of the rising inequality. Policy implications are discussed.
  • Topic: Demographics, Development, Economics
  • Political Geography: China, Asia
  • Author: Ruslan Yemtsov
  • Publication Date: 01-2007
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: United Nations University
  • Abstract: All countries in transition experienced increases in inequality. They have also undertaken massive privatization of key asset housing, often on give-away terms. Are these two phenomena related? Has transfer of ownership rights to residents slowed down the inequality increases or it pushed it up? Surprisingly little is known in this area. This paper attempts to provide empirical evidence to start answering these questions. It shows how housing privatization affected the distribution of personal wealth and inequality in current consumption based on recent representative household surveys from three transition countries: Poland, Russia and Serbia. Survey data are compared with figures derived from national accounts and housing statistics. Contrary to common belief and some earlier evidence of strong equalizing effect of housing distribution in Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union, the paper finds that the contribution of housing to the overall inequality levels is not strong, and is not universally progressive. There is also a significant variation across countries. In Russia and Serbia progressive. There is also a significant variation across countries. In Russia and Serbia features of privatization programmes resulted in better off households capturing more valuable housing assets on extremely beneficial terms, while in Poland privatization and housing reform led to more equitable outcomes. When owner occupied housing rents and durables are properly accounted for, the effects of housing ownership on inequality in current consumption are mildly progressive in Russia and Poland and regressive in Serbia. The paper argues that the information collected by regular household surveys provides only a starting point to study housing wealth distribution, and there are a number of gaps which should be addressed through improved data collection.
  • Topic: Civil Society, Development, Economics, Poverty
  • Political Geography: Russia, Poland, Serbia
  • Author: Vicar Valencia, William E. Griffiths, D.S. Prasada Rao, Duangkamon Chotikapanich
  • Publication Date: 01-2007
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: United Nations University
  • Abstract: This paper examines the nature and extent of global and regional income distribution and inequality using the most recent country level data on income distribution drawn from World Bank and UNU-WIDER studies for the period 1993–2000. The methodology used is a recently developed technique to fit flexible income distributions to limited aggregated data. Empirical results show a very high degree of global inequality, but with some evidence of inequality decreasing between the two years.
  • Topic: International Relations, Development, Economics, Globalization
  • Author: Wim Naudé, Marianne Matthee
  • Publication Date: 08-2007
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: United Nations University
  • Abstract: The success of Africa's exports, as well as its spatial development, depends on lowering transport costs. In this Policy Brief, we address a number of pertinent questions on transport costs in Africa, such as 'what are transport costs?', 'do transport costs matter for trade?', 'how important are transport costs in practice?', and 'why are Africa's transport costs so high?' We present a case study of the firm location decisions of exporters in South Africa to illustrate the significance in particular of domestic transport costs for manufactured exports. The message from this Policy Brief is that Africa's international transport costs are significantly higher than that of other regions, and its domestic transport costs could be just as significant. Moreover we show how domestic transport costs influence the location, the quantity, and the diversity of manufactured exports. Various policy options to reduce transport costs in Africa are discussed.
  • Topic: Economics, International Trade and Finance, Markets
  • Political Geography: Africa
  • Author: Ha-Joon Chang
  • Publication Date: 08-2007
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: United Nations University
  • Abstract: The volume Institutional Change and Economic Development fills some important gaps in our understanding of the relationship between institutional changes and economic development. It does so by developing new discourses on the 'technology of institution building' and by providing detailed case studies—historical and more recent— of institution building. It is argued that functional multiplicity, the importance of informal institutions, unintended consequences, and intended 'perversion' of institutions all imply that the orthodox recipe of importing 'best practice' formal institutions does not work. While denying the existence of universal formulas, the volume distills some general principles of institutions building from theoretical explorations and case studies.
  • Topic: Development, Economics, International Cooperation, International Trade and Finance
  • Author: Guanghua Wan, Yin Zhang
  • Publication Date: 12-2006
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: United Nations University
  • Abstract: Applying the Shapley decomposition to unit-record household survey data, this paper investigates the trends and causes of poverty in China in the 1990s. The changes in poverty trends are attributed to two proximate causes; income growth and shifts in relative income distribution. The Foster-Greer-Thorbecke measures are computed and decomposed, with different datasets and alternative assumptions about poverty lines and equivalence. Among the robust results are: (i) both income growth and favourable distributional changes can explain China's remarkable achievement in combating poverty in rural areas in the first half of the 1990s; (2) in the second half of the 1990s, both rural and urban China suffered from rapidly rising inequality and stagnant income growth, leading to a slow-down in poverty reduction, even reversal of poverty trend.
  • Topic: Development, Economics, Poverty
  • Political Geography: China, Asia
  • Author: Anthony B. Atkinson
  • Publication Date: 12-2006
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: United Nations University
  • Abstract: The aim of this paper is to examine the concentration of wealth among the group of top wealth holders, defined as those with wealth in excess of a high cut off. The paper begins by considering the definition of this cut off, analogous to the definition of a poverty line at the other end of the distribution. It then considers what can be learned about the proportion classified as 'rich' and about the concentration among the rich from four non-survey sources: journalists' lists, estate data, wealth tax data, and investment income tax data. It starts off from the world's billionaires in 2006, but is particularly concerned with changes over time within countries, taking France, Germany, the UK, and the USA, to illustrate the different sources.
  • Topic: Civil Society, Demographics, Economics
  • Political Geography: United States, United Kingdom, France, Germany
  • Author: James C. MacGee
  • Publication Date: 12-2006
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: United Nations University
  • Abstract: Does the existence of formal title to land and real estate matter for the distribution of wealth? This paper reviews the empirical literature on the economic impact of land and real estate administration systems across countries. This paper argues that a functioning credit market for secured credit is necessary to realize the full benefits of legal title to private real estate. This paper also reviews quantitative economic theory on wealth distribution to assess the likely impact of different land registration systems on wealth inequality. The implication of current theory is that poor land administration systems may sometimes lead to lower levels of wealth inequality than better land registration systems.
  • Topic: International Relations, Demographics, Economics, Markets
  • Author: Tony Addison
  • Publication Date: 09-2006
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: United Nations University
  • Abstract: Artists, musicians and writers have always been great travellers. Today, their talent circulates in new ways, and takes new forms, as the creative industries expand globally in a marriage of media technology and the traditional arts. The growing international market for cultural talent can do much to help countries diversify their economies, and improve the quality of life more broadly. The creative industries are subject to strong clustering effects, with talent moving swiftly to the most vibrant clusters, not always to the advantage of the poorer countries which can lose talent to the richer world. Countries that protect intellectual property rights, educate and train their talent, and maintain politically open and liberal societies will have a head start in the global creative economy.
  • Topic: International Relations, Economics, Migration, Science and Technology
  • Author: Mehmet Arda
  • Publication Date: 09-2006
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: United Nations University
  • Abstract: The importance of supermarkets in the world food economy has increased radically since the early 1990s. They are now major sellers and buyers of food items not only in developed but also in developing countries. Urbanization and the liberalization of the services sector have been important facilitators of this process.
  • Topic: Development, Economics, Human Welfare
  • Political Geography: Latin America, Central America
  • Author: Yin Ge
  • Publication Date: 09-2006
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: United Nations University
  • Abstract: How do foreign trade and foreign direct investment affect regional inequality? Foreign trade and investment may affect internal economic geography, and the resulting industry agglomeration may contribute to regional inequality. This paper provides empirical evidence supporting this linkage. The results indicate that the increasing regional inequality in China has been accompanied by an increase in the degree of regional specialization and industry agglomeration. Foreign trade and foreign investment are closely related to industry agglomeration in China. Industries dependent on foreign trade and FDI are more likely to locate in regions with easy access to foreign markets, and exporting industries have a higher degree of agglomeration.
  • Topic: Economics, Industrial Policy, International Trade and Finance
  • Political Geography: China, Asia
  • 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: Salvatore Capasso
  • Publication Date: 09-2006
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: United Nations University
  • Abstract: Since the 1990s economists have devoted considerable attention to the study of the relationship between financial markets development and economic growth. In particular, the emergence of stock markets with economic development is an intriguing and interesting aspect of such a relationship, and yet relatively unexplored. This paper examines the most recent findings in the theoretical and empirical literature trying to determine the rationale behind the development of stock markets along the path of growth and the nature of the interrelationship between real and financial variables.
  • Topic: Development, Economics, Emerging Markets, Markets
  • 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: Mina Baliamoune-Lutz
  • Publication Date: 09-2006
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: United Nations University
  • Abstract: Using a vector error-correction model, I explore the short-run dynamics and long-run linkages between financial reform and the mobilization of domestic saving in Morocco. In the short run, financial depth (volume of intermediation) is shown to have a positive influence on private saving, while increases in real interest rates have a negative impact. The effectiveness of financial intermediation does not seem to have a direct effect on saving but has a significant influence on the volume of intermediation. In the long run, savings have a stable relationship with financial reform but the influence of interest rates remains negative, implying that the income effect dominates in the long run as well.
  • Topic: Development, Economics
  • Political Geography: Africa, Morocco
  • Author: Zhicheng Liang
  • Publication Date: 09-2006
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: United Nations University
  • Abstract: Financial development can exert a significant influence on the distribution of income. In this paper, using Chinese provincial data over the period of 1991-2000 and applying the generalized method of moment (GMM) techniques, we investigate the relationship between finance and inequality in rural China by testing alternative existing theories concerning the finance-inequality nexus. A negative and linear relationship between finance and inequality is found in our estimations. The empirical results show that financial development significantly reduces income inequality in post-reform rural China.
  • Topic: Demographics, Development, Economics
  • Political Geography: China, Asia