Inclusive Growth

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Fintech, Inclusive Growth and Cyber Risks in the MENAP and CCA Regions

From a new IMF working paper:

“Financial technology (fintech) is emerging as an innovative way to achieve financial inclusion and the broader objective of inclusive growth. In addition to improving the speed, convenience, and efficiency of financial services, fintech has potential to promote financial inclusion. More specifically, it can enhance access to affordable financial services for unbanked populations and underserved small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs); reduce delays and costs in cross-border remittances; foster efficiencies and transparency in government operations, which helps reduce corruption, and facilitate social and humanitarian transfers in a manner that preserves human dignity.”

“For the Middle East, North Africa, Afghanistan and Pakistan (MENAP) and Caucasus and Central Asia (CCA) regions, fintech has a particularly valuable role to play as these potential benefits are aligned with the regions’ policy priorities. Both regions have countries with large unbanked populations, SMEs whose growth is constrained by limited access to finance, high youth unemployment, large remittance markets and informal transfers (Hawala), undiversified economies, vulnerabilities to terrorism, large income disparities, large displaced populations, and endemic corruption. Fintech innovations and underlying technologies can contribute to the solutions for many of these challenges.”

“The scale and pace of fintech in MENAP and CCA countries, however, lags other regions, and fintech is yet to foster an inclusive digital economy. Although there is significant diversity in the pace with which countries in both regions are adopting fintech, overall investment into fintech and the uptake of fintech and mobile financial services have been low compared to other regions. There also continues to be a strong preference for cash payments in the Middle East, despite the growth of e-commerce transactions. Consequently, the potential gap remains large in key areas such as financial inclusion, access to SMEs, diversification, reducing informal sector and the broader objective of inclusive growth.”

From a new IMF working paper:

“Financial technology (fintech) is emerging as an innovative way to achieve financial inclusion and the broader objective of inclusive growth. In addition to improving the speed, convenience, and efficiency of financial services, fintech has potential to promote financial inclusion. More specifically, it can enhance access to affordable financial services for unbanked populations and underserved small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs); reduce delays and costs in cross-border remittances;

Read the full article…

Posted by at 4:05 PM

Labels: Inclusive Growth

New Evidence that Unions Raise Wages for Less-Skilled Workers

From a new post by Steve Maas:

New Evidence that Unions Raise Wages for Less-Skilled WorkersTapping into eight decades of private and public surveys, a new study finds evidence that unions have historically reduced income inequality.

For Unions and Inequality over the Twentieth Century: New Evidence from Survey Data (NBER Working Paper No. 24587), Henry S. FarberDaniel HerbstIlyana Kuziemko, and Suresh Naidu assembled a household-level database on union membership dating back to 1936.

The U.S. Bureau of the Census has tracked wages and education consistently since 1940. Aggregate data on union membership goes back to the early 20th century, but data on individual workers were not readily available until the Census Bureau started asking about union affiliation in 1973. By that time, unions were already in decline, and higher-skilled workers accounted for an increasing share of their membership.

The researchers draw on more than 500 surveys conducted by Gallup and other pollsters from 1936 through 1986, extending their dataset into the present day with information from government surveys and other sources.

Their study finds that the salary premium for union members compared to workers with comparable skills and demographic characteristics has remained relatively steady over the last 80 years despite large swings both in the overall number of union members and in their education levels. The less skilled the workers were, the greater the wage premium associated with their union membership. The researchers find a negative correlation between unionization rates and measures of inequality such as the Gini coefficient.

Between 1940 to 1970, when unionization peaked and income inequality narrowed, unions were drawing in the least-skilled workers. Before and after that period, unions were smaller and a higher fraction of their members were drawn from the ranks of high-skill workers. The 1940 – 1970 period also coincided with the highest share of union members drawn from minority groups.

The clear implication of the researchers’ analysis is that, because unions offer a larger wage premium to less-skilled workers, unions have an important equalizing effect on the income distribution to the extent that they are successful in organizing the less-skilled. Recent decades have seen growth in educational attainment in the workforce, and, importantly, not only has the overall share of workers who are unionized declined, but unions have also become relatively less successful in organizing less-skilled workers. The remaining unionized workforce is more highly educated than it was earlier. The combination of the declining presence of unions in the labor market and the increased skill level of the remaining union workers means that the important equalizing effect of unions on the income distribution that was seen in the middle of the 20th century has diminished substantially.”

From a new post by Steve Maas:

New Evidence that Unions Raise Wages for Less-Skilled WorkersTapping into eight decades of private and public surveys, a new study finds evidence that unions have historically reduced income inequality.

For Unions and Inequality over the Twentieth Century: New Evidence from Survey Data (NBER Working Paper No. 24587), Henry S. Farber

Read the full article…

Posted by at 12:45 PM

Labels: Inclusive Growth

A Shorter Work Week?

From a new Conversable Economist post by Timothy Taylor:

“The biggest European union has managed to achieve a long-standing goal: German metal-workers can now work a 28-hour week, if  they wish. […] What do German employers get out of this deal? They get flexibility, in the sense that if some workers want to work longer hours, the firm can hire them to do so. Furthermore, Pencavel argues that for many workers, labor exhibits diminishing marginal productivity over the work-week: that is, the 25th hour worked in a week is on average more productive than the 35th or the 45th hour worked. Thus, employers will be getting the more productive hours from workers, for the same hourly pay.”

“Does a drive for lower hours have any resonance in the US economy? Pencavel points out that in the US labor market, weekly hours worked dropped sharply in the decades leading up to 1930 or so, but since then, the decline has largely stopped. (And for the record, American unions in certain induistries remained quite powerful in the 1950s and 1960s, and they might well have succeeded in pushing for lower weekly hours if it had been a priority for them.)”

“Here’s a different figure, not from Pencavel’s brief, showing average weekly hours for production and nonsupervisory workers in all industries, not just manufacturing. This average includes part-timers.  This shows an ongoing drop over time, although it may have levelled out around the year 2000.  Specifically: “Average weekly hours relate to the average hours per worker for which pay was received and is different from standard or scheduled hours. Factors such as unpaid absenteeism, labor turnover, part-time work, and stoppages cause average weekly hours to be lower than scheduled hours of work for an establishment. …  Average weekly hours are the total weekly hours divided by the employees paid for those hours.””

“It’s an interesting Labor Day question as to how many US workers would we willing to make the tradeoff of lower hours for less total income (assuming they would not see diminished job security as a result). From a US context, one interesting pattern is that lower-wage workers used to be the ones who on average worked the longest hours, but now it’s higher-wage workers. “

From a new Conversable Economist post by Timothy Taylor:

“The biggest European union has managed to achieve a long-standing goal: German metal-workers can now work a 28-hour week, if  they wish. […] What do German employers get out of this deal? They get flexibility, in the sense that if some workers want to work longer hours, the firm can hire them to do so. Furthermore, Pencavel argues that for many workers,

Read the full article…

Posted by at 11:29 AM

Labels: Inclusive Growth

Understanding the Decline of U.S. Manufacturing Employment

From a new working paper by Susan N. Houseman:

“Two stylized facts underlie the prevailing view that automation largely caused the relative decline and, in the 2000s, the large absolute decline in U.S. manufacturing employment: first, manufacturing real output growth has largely kept pace with that of the aggregate economy for decades, and second, manufacturing labor productivity growth has been considerably higher. These statistics appear to provide a compelling case that domestic manufacturing is strong, and that, as in agriculture, productivity growth, assumed to reflect automation, is largely responsible for the relative and absolute decline in manufacturing employment. Although the size and scope of the decline in employment manufacturing industries in the 2000s was unprecedented, many
see it as part of a long-term trend and deem the role of trade small.”

“That view, I have argued, reflects a misinterpretation of the numbers. First, aggregate manufacturing output and productivity statistics are dominated by the computer industry and mask considerable weakness in most manufacturing industries, where real output growth has been much slower than average private sector growth since the 1980s and has been anemic or declining since 2000. Second, labor productivity growth is not synonymous with, and is often a poor indicator of, automation. Measures of labor productivity growth may capture many forces besides automation—including improvements in product quality, outsourcing and offshoring, and a changing industry composition owing to international competition. Indeed, the rapid productivity growth in the computer and electronics products industry, and by extension in the manufacturing sector, largely reflects improvements in product quality, not automation. In short, the stylized facts, when properly interpreted, do not provide prima facie evidence that automation drove the relative and absolute decline in manufacturing employment.”

“It is difficult to parse out the effects of various factors on manufacturing employment, and research does not provide simple decompositions of the total contribution that trade and the broader forces of globalization make to manufacturing’s recent employment decline. Nevertheless, the research evidence points to trade and globalization as the major factor behind the large and swift decline of manufacturing employment in the 2000s. Although manufacturing processes continue to be automated, there is no evidence that the pace of automation in the sector accelerated in the 2000s; if anything, research comes to the opposite conclusion.”

“Manufacturing still matters, and its decline has serious economic consequences. Reflecting the sector’s deep supply chains, manufacturing’s plight contributed to the weak employment growth and poor labor market outcomes prevailing during much of the 2000s. Research shows that such large-scale shocks have persistent adverse effects on affected communities and their residents, though these costs rarely are fully considered in policy making (Klein, Schuh, and Triest 2003). In addition, because manufacturing accounts for a disproportionate share of R&D, the health of manufacturing industries has important implications for innovation in the economy. The widespread denial of domestic manufacturing’s weakness and globalization’s role in its employment collapse has inhibited much-needed, informed debate over trade policies.”

From a new working paper by Susan N. Houseman:

“Two stylized facts underlie the prevailing view that automation largely caused the relative decline and, in the 2000s, the large absolute decline in U.S. manufacturing employment: first, manufacturing real output growth has largely kept pace with that of the aggregate economy for decades, and second, manufacturing labor productivity growth has been considerably higher. These statistics appear to provide a compelling case that domestic manufacturing is strong,

Read the full article…

Posted by at 10:56 AM

Labels: Inclusive Growth, Macro Demystified

The Measurement and Macro-Relevance of Corruption

From a new IMF working paper:

“Corruption is macro-relevant for many countries, but is often hidden, making measurement of it—and its effects—inherently difficult. Existing indicators suffer from several weaknesses, including a lack of time variation due to the sticky nature of perception-based measures, reliance on a limited pool of experts, and an inability to distinguish between corruption and institutional capacity gaps. This paper attempts to address these limitations by leveraging news media coverage of corruption. We contribute to the literature by constructing the first big data, cross-country news flow indices of corruption (NIC) and anti-corruption (anti-NIC) by running country-specific search algorithms over more than 665 million international news articles. These indices correlate well with existing measures of corruption but offer additional richness in their time-series variation. Drawing on theory from the corporate finance and behavioral economics literature, we also test to what extent news about corruption and anti-corruption efforts affects economic agents’ assessments of corruption and, in turn, economic outcomes. We find that NIC shocks appear to negatively impact both financial (e.g., stock market returns and yield spreads) and real variables (e.g., growth), albeit with some country heterogeneity. On average, NIC shocks lower real per capita GDP growth by 3 percentage points over a two-year period, illustrating persistence in the effect of such shocks. Conversely, there is suggestive evidence that anti-NIC efforts appear to have a sustained positive macro impact only when paired with meaningful institutional strengthening, proxied by capacity development efforts.”

From a new IMF working paper:

“Corruption is macro-relevant for many countries, but is often hidden, making measurement of it—and its effects—inherently difficult. Existing indicators suffer from several weaknesses, including a lack of time variation due to the sticky nature of perception-based measures, reliance on a limited pool of experts, and an inability to distinguish between corruption and institutional capacity gaps. This paper attempts to address these limitations by leveraging news media coverage of corruption.

Read the full article…

Posted by at 8:05 PM

Labels: Inclusive Growth

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