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Europe and Central Asia

Is Armenia missing out on a key element of its economic potential?

Laura Bailey's picture
As we celebrate International Women’s Day around the world on March 8th, I’m worried that Armenia is missing out on a key building block for economic growth. Women are 54 percent of the working age population – the ages of 15 to 64 – but only 40 percent of those employed or looking for work. In fact, just a bit more than half (58 percent) of women in that age group participate in the labor market – 18 percentage points lower than for men in Armenia.

Young women, Armenia

Has e-government improved governance? Not yet.

Zahid Hasnain's picture
Digital connectivity is viewed by many in technology and development circles as central to achieving the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDG’s). Luminaries supporting the Connectivity Declaration are among them.

“We love our daughters. But we need a son.”

Giorgia DeMarchi's picture

“We love our daughters. But we need a son.”

This refrain captures the common sentiment in Armenia, and is at the heart of the growing issue of sex imbalances in the country. Armenia today has one of the most imbalanced sex ratios at birth in the world, with 114 baby boys born for every 100 baby girls, above the natural rate of 105. We recently met with groups across Armenia to dig deeper into the root causes of sex preferences, with the hope of helping find an effective policy solution.
 
This issue has long affected countries like China, India and others in Asia, but it has emerged only recently in the South Caucasus. In Armenia, the ratio of boy births to girl births started increasing in the 1990s, when economic disruption and the desire to have smaller families, combined with the availability of sex detection technology, led many families to choose sex selection in the quest to have a son. The result? A generation of “missing girls,” as Amartya Sen first called this phenomenon.

In response: the Dutch disease and market forces

Hans Timmer's picture
The following is a response to an earlier blog post by Ulrich Bartsch and Donato De Rosa
 


Although there exists plenty of analysis of the Dutch disease, the resource curse, and Hotelling’s rule to fill several large libraries, there is nonetheless still ample room for debate about optimal policies in resource-rich countries. What is the optimal pace of extraction? Should they diversify? If so, how should they diversify and when should they diversify? What role should sovereign wealth funds play? Can the destabilizing adjustment process in the wake of an oil price collapse be avoided?

In a recent blog, Ulrich Bartsch and Donato De Rosa revisit the issue of resource revenue management. There are many good elements in this analysis, but there is one big problem: The same rigor that is used to analyze the goods markets is not used to analyze the accumulation of assets. While market forces are declared essential in the goods markets, little is said about the role of market forces in the accumulation of assets.
 
Let’s explore a bit more the relation between market forces, asset accumulation, and comparative advantages.

Fragility, conflict, and natural disasters – a ‘one-size fits all’ approach to resilience?

Francis Ghesquiere's picture
A partner from the EU assesses damage to an apartment building in Ukraine. Photo credit: EU

It’s a simple yet essential idea: war and disaster are linked, and these links must be examined to improve the lives of millions of people around the world.

Alarmingly, the total number of disaster events – and the economic losses associated with those events – keep increasing. This trend has been driven by population growth, urbanization, and climate change, leading to increasing economic losses of $150-$200 billion each year, up from $50 billion in the 1980s. But here is another piece of information: more than half of people impacted by natural hazards lived in fragile or conflict-affected states.

New bike lanes and metro stations in Bucharest paid for by carbon credits

Yevgen Yesyrkenov's picture

Also available in: Russian

Over the years, Bucharest has improved its cycling infrastructure. Photo: Stelian Pavalache


Over the past year, people living in Bucharest, the capital of Romania, are seeing more bike lanes and metro stations in their city than before.

There are now about 122 km of cycling paths and four metro lines with 45 stations. It is a welcome sight in a city that suffers from air pollution and where many people tend to use private vehicles. Using bikes and the metro is cleaning up the city and, for some, is a quicker way to get around. And, as its popularity increases, it will likely lead to lower greenhouse gas emissions. Financing for this new development comes in part from the sale of carbon credits to Romanian power companies by the government, a welcome revenue stream for a stretched city budget.  

How to encourage Moldovans to contribute to their pensions?

Yuliya Smolyar's picture
My last post discussed the challenges and reforms of Moldova’s pension system, but I would like to focus now on the incentives for contributing into a pension system. This issue is especially important for a country like Moldova, where old-age pensions are directly related to the number of contribution years and the level of individual earnings.

Such pension schemes typically envisage some level of redistribution to address poverty and equity concerns. However, excessive redistribution decreases the incentive to contribute to the pension system.

An effectively functioning incentives structure is critical to encouraging workers to contribute more in return for an adequate pension at retirement. Why? Because if the right incentives are not in place, people will avoid contributing into a system that doesn’t offer more than the minimum pension – regardless of the level of contribution.

So, in terms of incentives structure, what particular challenges does Moldova face?

Of the Dutch and other Diseases

Ulrich Bartsch's picture

The recent collapse in oil prices is a good time to revisit the issues of resource revenue management. A good crisis should not go to waste, and it is in times like these that policy makers clearly realize their failures in the past and bemoan the lack of economic diversification away from oil.
 

What will it take for Romania to fully reap the dividends of digital transformation?

Marc Lixi's picture
Last week I was in Bucharest and attended the launch of the World Development Report (WDR) 2016: Digital Dividends. The event was co-hosted by the National School of Political and Administrative Studies (SNSPA) and the World Bank.

It was the first country-focused launch in an EU member state and brought together academics, business executives, regulators, journalists, former and current policy-makers to discuss the digital agenda and its implications for Romania’s EU2020 targets, growth and development.

But this launch is not the only reason why Romania stands out.

The country actually represents a paradoxical case study in terms of digital transformation.    

Romania boasts nine of the world’s top fifteen cities with the fastest broadband internet, yet over 40% of the population is at risk of poverty or social exclusion – the highest rate in the EU.

Mobilizing the buildings sector for climate action

Marcene D. Broadwater's picture

Also available in: Spanish

Kolkata West International City, India. Credits: IFC


With the passing of the historic climate change agreement in Paris, the buildings sector, which accounts for 32 percent of total energy use and 19 percent of GHG emissions, has been highlighted as a key industry to transform in order to achieve global climate mitigation goals. The private sector has responded with ambitious pledges for action, and must now turn to practical solutions to put the building sector on a low-carbon path.

The good news is that the level of aspiration is very high. I participated in the first-ever Buildings Day at COP21, witnessing ambitious commitments from both the public and the private sector. Over 90 countries have included attention to buildings in their Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs), with greater than 1,300 commitments from companies and industry and professional organizations.


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