Arab Attitudes toward Gender Equality and toward the Islamic State: New Public Opinion Survey Findings

By  Mark Tessler, Research Professor, Center for Political Studies, Samuel J. Eldersveld Professor, Department of Political Science, University of Michigan.marktessler

Recent public opinion research in the Arab world sheds light on the views held by ordinary citizens about two very important issues.  The first of these is gender equality.  The second is the terrorist movement that calls itself the Islamic State.

Although the importance of gender equality is widely recognized, there are different views about the degree to which women and men should have the same rights and opportunities in various areas.  For example, my recent analysis of the data from 50 different surveys, in which 68,498 Muslim men and women in 15 Arab countries were interviewed, found that 69.0 percent disagree with the proposition that a university education is more important for a boy than a girl, but only 25.9 percent disagree with the idea that men make better political leaders than women.  Responses were similarly varied on the seven other questions in these surveys pertaining to gender equality.

Not surprisingly, the level of support for gender equality differs from one population category to another.  This is illustrated by Figure 1, which considers the item about the importance of a university education for boys and girls.  It shows that support for gender equality is higher among women than men and among those who are better educated.

figure1

This research sought not only to map the distribution of support for gender equality but also, using multivariate statistical analysis, to identify some of the factors that predispose individuals to either support or oppose greater equality between women and men.  One interesting finding, and perhaps a surprising one, is that in most cases more religious and less religious individuals hold similar views.  The study divided respondents into eight demographic categories based on sex, age and education taken together, and it found that more religious people were less supportive of gender equality in only three of these categories: older men, both better educated and less well educated, and less well educated older women.

The finding personal religiosity does not influence attitudes about gender equality among younger and better educated individuals, the latter defined as having had at least a high school education, suggests that religiosity, whatever may have been its influence in the past, is increasingly unlikely to involve the embrace of religious interpretations that hinder equality between women and men.

Another interesting finding is that among older individuals, of both sexes and regardless of educational level, support for gender equality is lower among persons in less favorable economic circumstances.  Among younger individuals in all demographic categories, by contrast, views are the same among persons in more favorable and less favorable economic circumstances.

These findings again show a significant generational divide, with fewer factors pushing away from support for gender equality among younger individuals.

Turning to the so-called Islamic State, frequently called Daesh, Arab Barometer [arabbarometer.org] surveys carried out in Jordan, Palestine, Tunisia, Algeria and Morocco between February and June 2016 found little support for the terrorist organization.

One question asked about support for Daesh’s goals and another about support for Daesh’s tactics.  Support for Daesh’s goals ranged from less than 1 percent in Jordan and Morocco, to 1.7 percent in Tunisia, and to 4.6 percent and 6.4 percent, respectively, in Algeria and Palestine.  In every case, support for Daesh’s tactics was even lower.

It is possible that some respondents who support Daesh were reluctant to acknowledge this to interviewers.  For this reason, responses were also tabulated with respondents who refused to answer or said they had no opinion provisionally counted as supporters.   But even with these “refusals and don’t knows” included, overall support remained very low.  The figures are shown in Figure 2.

figure2

In addition to examining the views of all respondents, a separate analysis was carried out among poorly educated younger men, a category of the population that has been the primary target of Daesh messaging and recruitment efforts.  Significantly, the views of respondents in this key demographic group were about the same as the views of others.  This includes Tunisia, the Arab country where Daesh has had the most success in attracting recruits.

These findings do not mean that Daesh messaging and recruitment efforts are no longer a serious concern.  But they do make clear that all but a small number of ordinary citizens in Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, Palestine, and Jordan oppose not only the tactics but also the goals of the so-called Islamic State.

What You Gonna Do When the Robot Does the Job Better Than You?

freeman-2_korea_7-06By Richard Freeman, Herbert Ascherman Chair in Economics at Harvard University.

This week Google’s alphaGo artificial intelligence program defeated human champion Lee Se-dol in the ancient game of Go.  This triumph of artificial intelligence follows computers beating humans in Jeopardy, Chess, and enough other activities to suggest the world of work is entering a new era. In 2015 Stephen Hawkings warned of the dangers of artificial intelligence and robotics.  Elon Musk, and many others, raised concerns about machines that could outperform humans in diverse ways. Every day the media reports new robots able to do human work – as surgeons, nurses, receptionists, accountants, and so on.

Economists tend to view the fears of robots taking our jobs as science fiction that ignores economic history and logic.  Past fears of automation have proven false as economic growth has turned recession joblessness into booms. Comparative advantage tells us that as long as machines and humans have different skill set, the economy will allot the work that machines do relatively better than humans to the machines and the work that humans do better to humans, even if machines have an absolute advantage in all work tasks.  To overcome global problems from climate change to poverty for billions of people requires lots of work from both humans and robots.

And yet… the constant flow of reports of better computer programs and robots able to do our work is not science fiction but reality … today we follow the GPS program that tells us where to drive our car but tomorrow we will sit in driver-less cars.  What will the Go learning algorithm do next?

Today’s technology differs from the mechanization and automation of years past, by being increasingly based on learning algorithms that continually make the computer better at its task, and on soft robotics in which the machine mimics human behavior.  Developments in quantum computing that increase the speed of machines millions of times faster than current computers will likely create ever stronger machine competitors for the work humans do in the next decade or today.

Today’s economy is also different from the economy of years past. In nearly all countries capital’s share of income has risen. Inequality in labor earnings has increased as the gains of technological advance accrue to those at the very top, whose pay is linked to capital through stock grants, options, and bonuses. The labor unions whose task is to raise workers pay and giving them a share of increased output are weaker than they have been in decades.

My analysis of the future of technology and jobs follows from the three laws of robo-economics:

  • Robots become increasingly better substitutes for people over time;
  • Technological advances reduce the cost of robots in doing work tasks and the wages of workers competing in those tasks;
  • The share of income earned by robots increases over time.

With the current distribution of capital ownership, the beneficiaries from improved robotic technology will be the small number of people with great wealth. To assure that the workers who will face increased robotic competition benefit from this technology ownership of  capital must spread to more people.  The million dollar prize that went to AlphaGo  for winning the Human/Artificial Intelligence contest is just the tip of the rewards that will go to robots able to do our jobs better than we can. The solution lies in public and private policies to spread ownership.

About the Author

Richard Freeman holds the Herbert Ascherman Chair in Economics at Harvard University. He is currently serving as faculty co-director of the Labor and Worklife Program at the Harvard Law School, and is senior research fellow in Labor Markets at the London School of Economics’ Centre for Economic Performance. He directs the National Bureau of Economic Research / Sloan Science Engineering Workforce Projects, and is co-director of the Harvard Center for Green Buildings and Cities. Freeman is a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Science and the AAAS. He is currently serving on the AAAS Initiative for Science and Technology. Freeman has served on 11 Panels and Boards of the U.S. National Academy of Science. He has published extensively on a variety of labor markets issues. His current research activities include role of firms and institutions in inequality and unions and workplace organization.

How Can We Limit the Damage?

portrait oct15By Joost Hiltermann is Program Director, Middle East and  North Africa, at the International Crisis Group.

The economic challenges faced by states and societies in the Middle East and North Africa are enormous even in the best of times. But today the region is facing a crisis of unprecedented magnitude that will set back efforts to address these challenges and indeed will cause a level of destruction that, assuming a gradual return to stability, will take decades to overcome. The key questions are: how can we limit the damage and prepare the ground for reconstruction, and also make efforts to protect the states still standing?

The region has been hit by an accumulating crisis of governance, culminating in the popular uprisings of 2011. The subsequent collapse of state systems throughout the region further demonstrated the bankruptcy of the prevailing order. Attempts to maintain (Jordan, Bahrain), renew (Tunisia), or restore (Egypt) that order have been feeble, with success far from guaranteed. Local conflicts in Libya, Syria, and Yemen have started to metastasize and intersect, drawing in regional and even global powers, while radical non-state actors – principally the Islamic State and the PKK – are exploiting the opportunity chaos provides to advance their agenda of erasing 100-year-old borders.

Western states, with the U.S. in the lead, have largely been muted bystanders except for their military response to the perceived threat posed by al-Qaeda and the Islamic State. Some claim that the de facto U.S. withdrawal from the region created a vacuum in which regional powers, uncertain of how to protect their interests, started pioneering in dangerous ways, further inflaming the situation. Others argue that U.S. intervention on behalf of its clients (for example, in Syria) would only have made matters worse, and could have brought the United States and Russia in direct confrontation. The latter scenario remains possible, regardless of how one comes down in that debate.

The way to recovery must be two-pronged, and be driven by goodwill and very hard work. First, in cases of open conflict, concerted efforts must be made to pursue political settlements, mediated by the United Nations or other credible outside actors, as the best way to reduce polarization and radicalization, and thus take the wind out of the radical groups’ sails. Once ceasefires are in place, inclusive political processes must be launched to reach settlements that may not satisfy anyone but can bring a modicum of stability and peace for the next generation. At that point, reconstruction can begin, and the deeper economic challenges addressed.

Second, where states are still standing, the focus should be on nudging governments toward structural reforms at all levels in order to better immunize them against the elements that caused breakdown elsewhere. This will be a tricky balancing act, because some of these states face such a legitimacy deficit, and are staying in power through such naked repression, that outside support – based on the perception that their survival in a chaotic region has become an overriding imperative in order to prevent worse – may further entrench them rather than encourage them to reform, and thereby accelerate rather than reverse the process leading to their demise.

In addition to this two-pronged approach, Western states, which have a stake in a return to stability, should beware of overreacting to the threat posed by radical actors, and understand them as symptoms rather than causes of instability, even if these groups are now also driving events – in Iraq, Syria, Libya, and elsewhere. Domestic pressures in Europe – from the arrival of unwanted refugees and migrants, and extremists’ attacks in cities – may inform resort to military responses outside a political and strategic framework. Such pressures must be resisted, and such responses avoided, if we are to have any hope of recovery at all.

About the Author

Joost Hiltermann is Program Director, Middle East and  North Africa, at the International Crisis Group, an independent NGO dedicated to preventing deadly conflict. He was executive director of the Arms Division of Human Rights Watch (1994-2002) and database coordinator and research coordinator of the Palestinian human rights organization Al-Haq in Ramallah (1985-1990). He is author of A Poisonous Affair: America, Iraq, and the Gassing of Halabja (Cambridge, 2007), and Behind the Intifada: Labor and Women’s Movements in the Occupied Territories (Princeton, 1991). He holds a PhD in Sociology from the University of California, Santa Cruz. 

Structural Transformation is Key for Poverty Reduction in Arab Countries

KhalidAbu-IsmailBy Khalid Abu-Ismail, Chief of the Economic Development and Poverty Section at UN-ESCWA.

The long-term development vision for the Arab region should address the core challenge of poverty reduction, especially in middle and lower-middle income countries. Such a vision must also build on an understanding of the order of magnitude and evolution of poverty in Arab countries. The Arab poverty story, however, depends crucially on our choice of poverty measure. For example, if we rely on international poverty lines based on PPP exchange rates, it would seems that the Arab poor and middle class generally benefited from the liberal economic and social reform policies adopted by most Arab countries since the late 1980s. Accordingly, we may be inclined to accept the view that the Arab Spring was driven by a failure in governance rather than a failure in economic and social policies per se. The basic premise of poor governance being correct, I would argue that on the contrary, the consequences were quite different, namely the Arab poor and middle class were negatively affected by these economic reform policies. The basis for this position is not to rely on international poverty lines, given their problems related to PPP adjusting for exchange rates and inflation. Based on national poverty lines for a large number of Arab countries, the (non-GCC) regional poverty rate may have actually increased slightly from 1990 to 2010.

Likewise, data on the distribution of expenditure derived from household survey (such as the Gini and the share of the bottom 40%) will show inequality is low and slightly declining in Arab countries since 1990s. However, discrepancies between household expenditure surveys and household final consumption expenditures from national accounts suggest that inequality is much higher than we think and that it may have risen particularly during the decade leading up the Arab uprisings. The estimate by Alvaredo and Picketty (2014) that the share of top 1 per cent income receivers  might exceed 25 per cent of the region’s income (compared to 20 per cent in the United States) supports this conclusion.

One would like to corroborate this alterative assessment of the poverty and inequality narrative up to 2010 with progress in other aspects of development, which would also give a better sense of the broader Arab development challenges. Although economic growth has been relatively high over the past three decades, per capita growth was modest and there has been a region-wide increase in informal sector activities and vulnerable employment. In parallel, there has been a notable rise in undernourishment (since 1990).

Regional conflicts since 2010 have no doubt exacerbated these challenges. For example, according to the ESCWA Arab middle class report, the middle class size may have declined from 45 per cent in 2000 to 37 per cent in 2013 while the share of the poor and vulnerable groups estimated to have increased by an equivalent rate (from 39.5 per cent in 2000 to 52.9 per cent). The size of the middle class today is likely to be even lower given regional instability since 2013.

What should Arab countries do to make growth pro-poor and in the long-run pro-middle class? If growth is pro-poor, the income of the poor is growing at a faster rate than for the rest of the population. This implies, over time, poverty reduction and an expanding middle class. How can growth be pro-poor? This necessarily implies more effective social and fiscal policies. One concrete example is to redirect the fuel subsidies that mainly benefit the affluent groups to better targeted expenditures such as income transfers and employment schemes for the poor. Concurrently with poverty reduction, we should also aim to increase the welfare of the middle class so they do not slip into poverty. In the Arab context, this can be done by generating decent employment for the millions of young job seeking Arabs (an estimated 60-100 million jobs are required in the region by 2030). To this end, the pattern of growing informalisation of the labor market and/or the concentration of economic activities in low value-added sectors must be reversed by enacting economic policies that increase demand and real wages of the skilled middle class. Employment-led structural transformation can be induced through public investment programs and regional integration.

Is there fiscal space for financing a decent-work led economic transformation? Internal fiscal space exists in resource-rich labor-poor countries but not in resource-poor labor-rich countries. However, the natural complementarities between Arab countries can contribute significantly to improving productivity of the former and alleviating the fiscal constraint in the latter with economic regional integration. There is also much more that can be done to mobilize resources and financial flows, which are amongst other things, attracted by a good institutional environment. This brings us a full circle around, back to governance failure and the need for governance reform, which at the end of the day, costs little in extra finances.

The solution to the region’s poverty an inequality problems lies in providing decent employment, which past economic policies have failed to do. No doubt major reforms in governance practices are also needed. However, they are not sufficient unless accompanied with ambitious long-term programme of economic transformation and regional integration. Finally, the reconstruction of war-torn economies provides an entry point for revising policies along these lines.

About the Author

Khalid Abu-Ismail is the chief of the Economic Development and Poverty Section at UN-ESCWA. He held senior positions at USAID, Egypt’s Cabinet’s Decision Support Center and the UNDP, where he led and co-led several UN flagship publications, including Arab Development Outlook: Vision 2030 (ESCWA, 2015), Arab Development Challenges Report (UNDP, 2009 and 2012), The Arab MDG Report (UN and LAS, 2013) and many others. His research interests include macroeconomic (fiscal) policies, employment, food security, poverty (money metric and multi-dimensional) and inequality. He holds an MA and PhD in Development Economics from the New School for Social Research in New York, and a PhD in Development Planning and Environment from the University of Dundee in Scotland.

Lessons from the Arab Spring: Toward a New Development Agenda for the Middle East

HafezGhanemBy ERF Research Fellow, Hafez Ghanem, Vice President of the World Bank for the Middle East and North Africa.

Tunisia and Egypt were growing at around 4-5 percent during the period 2000-10, and yet their peoples revolted against existing regimes.  A possible explanation for this is that the revolutions were not about economics.  They were about demands for greater political participation.  But the data does not support this explanation.   According to the Arab Barometer more than 60 percent of Tunisians revolted against the Ben Ali regime because of a perceived economic weakness.   Data from the World Values Survey indicate that in 2008 more than 30 percent of Egyptians were dissatisfied in spite of economic growth.

This does not mean that there were no political drivers for the Arab Spring.   However, economic drivers were at least as important as the political ones.  Arab dissatisfaction with economic conditions was probably due to the fact that the growth was not inclusive.  There was a feeling that inequality increased and that a small minority, usually connected to political elites, reaped nearly all of the benefits of growth while most other groups were excluded.

Hence, a key lesson from the Arab Spring is that development policies need to focus on inclusion, and target excluded groups.  Youth, smallholder farmers and women suffer most from economic and social exclusion in the Arab world.   Young people face huge problems finding decent jobs, and the probability of unemployment even increases with the level of education which explains widespread unhappiness among educated youth.   Whole regions of countries, e.g. Upper Egypt or Western Tunisia, feel excluded.  Those lagging regions are home to the majority of the poor who largely depend for their livelihoods on smallholder agriculture.  Arab women have the lowest labor force participation rates in the world and very high unemployment rates.

A development agenda that focuses on inclusion would have at least four components:  developing small and medium enterprises(SMEs) in order to create jobs for youth and women; reforms of the education system to enhance quality; rural development and support to lagging regions; and institutional reforms to enhance implementation of policies and programs.

SMEs generate more than 60 percent of jobs in OECD countries.   In the Arab world SMEs are virtually non-existent as the business landscape is dominated by a few large firms and many micro-enterprises.  Reforms of the business environment, together with programs targeting SMEs, are needed to encourage SME growth, create decent jobs and expand the middle class.

Over the last few decades Arab countries have succeeded in expanding access to education but quality is a serious problem.  Arab students continue to fail basic literacy and numeracy tests, and there is a disparity between the skills that students acquire at schools and universities and those required by employers.  In particular, students do not develop 21st century skills like problem solving, communications, and working in teams.   Therefore, education reforms need to include changes in the curricula and pedagogical methods, as well as institutional enhancements to hold schools and teachers accountable for student learning.

Support to lagging regions requires paying special attention to smallholder and family farming.  This would include helping organize smallholders and linking them to domestic and international markets to increase their share in value added; improving access to land and securing titles; and increasing investment in research and extension and adapting them to the needs of smallholders.

Arab countries often adopt plans and policies that are technically sound but may not always reflect the needs of various stakeholders.  Lack of sufficient buy-in by stakeholders leads to non- or partial- implementation.  That is why there is a need to reform economic institutions to make them more inclusive and responsive to citizens’ needs.   Arab countries could benefit from the experience of successful East Asian economies that put in place consultative processes (including concerned government departments, the private sector, and civil society) to agree on national development plans and monitor their execution.

About the Author

Hafez Ghanem is the Vice President of the World Bank for the Middle East and North Africa. He is a development expert with more than thirty years of experience in policy analysis, project formulation and supervision, and management of multinational institutions. Prior to his appointment as vice president, Ghanem was a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution in the Global Economy and Development program leading the Arab economies project, focused on the impact of political transition on Arab economic development. Between 2007 and 2012, he served as the Assistant Director-General at the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO). He holds a bachelor’s and master’s degree in Economics from the American University in Cairo and a PhD in Economics from the University of California, Davis.

Converting Oil Rents to Inclusive Growth – Missing Ingredients

HassanHakimianThis post is written by ERF Research Fellow, Hassan Hakimian, Director of the London Middle East Institute and a Reader in Economics at SOAS, University of London.

The burgeoning resource curse literature is mainly focused on the link between oil rents and poor economic performance in resource-rich countries. The yardstick for evaluating economic performance in oil exporting countries such as those in the MENA region has largely been GDP growth. Little attention has been devoted to whether the experience of economic development in these countries has been inclusive and if not why not? This is at odds with the fact that the relationship between growth and equity has a long tradition and deep roots in both economics thinking and development policy debates – an interest that has been revived in recent years.

Inclusive growth can be broadly conceived of policies that make growth more ‘inclusive’ for the benefit of ‘the widest’ social and economic groupings.  Although there is not a universally agreed definition of inclusive growth and also operationalizing the concept has not met with consensual success, recent interest in ensuring that growth is inclusive has been on the rise. The Asian Development Bank (ADB) now features inclusive growth as a long-term strategic framework and the African Development Bank (AfDB) lists it as a development objective.  Various governments too openly espouse the virtues of this policy with India, for instance, building concrete strategies into its Eleventh Five-Year Plan (2007-12) to safeguard and promote the well-being of the poor and disadvantaged groups.

Such interest has also been bolstered more recently by a desire to understand the economic performance of the Arab countries in the period leading to the spate of uprisings that brought down autocratic regimes from Tunis to Yemen.

The fact that the decade before these uprisings also coincided with unprecedentedly buoyant international oil prices and highly favorable oil incomes for oil exporters has added an interesting dimension to the habitual curiosity about the relationship between richness in oil endowments and performance in this period.

A recent study I have conducted for the AfDB casts an interesting light on this asking whether, and to what extent, the experience of the region’s oil exporters in this period may be considered to have been inclusive. This study constructs a single composite index for measuring inclusive growth for each country based on a wide range of indicators (14 in all) pertaining to such broad components of inclusive growth as economic, social, political and environmental aspects. It uses a comparative approach to rank all countries for which consistent and reliable data were available (153 in all are included in the dataset) for the two five-year periods: 2001-05 and 2006-10. The results, in particular for oil-exporting economies of the region offer new insights to the resource curse debate and literature.

Accordingly, the oil exporters – both large and small – Algeria and Iran, on one hand, and Libya, Bahrain and Kuwait (and Qatar to a lesser extent) on the other suffered a fall in their overall scores indicating a deterioration in their experience of inclusive growth during over these two sub-periods. What is perhaps additionally interesting is that for these countries the trend line performance is inferior to those of other Arab countries in general including the ‘Arab Spring’ countries such as Tunisia and Egypt. In the wider MENA context, only Syria and Yemen experienced a more inferior record in this regard. The best improver, on the other hand, was Oman (if we ignore Iraq which has to be considered an outlier due to a low base during the years of the US invasion).

Despite this shared deteriorating trajectory, there is variation among the oil exporters too. Algeria, Bahrain, Kuwait and the UAE all feature amongst the worst performers in terms of per capita GDP growth (ranking 117, 148, 151 and 153 out of 153 countries, respectively). Equally alarming is perhaps their low rankings in terms of unemployment in general and youth unemployment in particular (for instance Saudi Arabia ranks last amongst 153 countries in the dataset for youth unemployment during 2006-10). Other development dimensions such as gender and environment do not help their overall growth inclusivity either (data on poverty and inequality is unfortunately patchy).

This study underscores one overriding economic lesson of a decade which saw an unprecedented surge in oil prices (2001-10): the need to examine outcomes not just in terms of growth but also the quality of growth, its sustainability as well as the degree to which its benefits may extend to the wider sections of the society.

Estimated ‘Inclusive Growth’ Scores, 2001-05 and 2006-10, Normalized Ranks (min=0; max=100)

Hakimian_Blog_Table

Source: H. Hakimian, AfDB, Economic Brief, forthcoming, 2016.

 

Towards a New Development Agenda for the Middle East

The Economic Research Forum’s (ERF) 22nd Annual Conference will be held in Cairo, from March 19 to 21, 2016. Since 1995, ERF’s Annual Conference has proven to be the premiere regional event, where new ideas are born, where the community of researchers meets, and where excellence is celebrated.

This year’s conference will explore the development models followed by Arab countries before the uprisings and evaluate why these strategies failed to convince the majority of the populations of their effectiveness.

Looking ahead, it will seek to examine why countries in transition have thus far failed to devise new political settlements and development models years after the uprisings took place. The participants will attempt to chart a course of action for these countries that strikes a balance between immediate popular demands and long term sustainability.

Because a group of countries in the region suffers from conflicts and civil wars, a special session is devoted to a discussion of the root causes of the conflicts and post conflict resolution development agenda. This session will feature Former Foreign Minister Nabil Fahmy and experts from abroad.

Around 200 renowned economists, political scientists and policymakers from the region and abroad are expected to attend the conference to address this year’s theme of ‘Towards a New Development Agenda for the Middle East.

The conference will begin with an opening session chaired by the Director General of the Arab Fund for Economic and Social Development and Kuwait’s Former Foreign Minister Abdlatif Al-Hamad. The session will feature the World Bank’s Hafez Ghanem, the Atlantic Council’s Mohsen Khan, Oxford University’s Adeel Malik and ERF Managing Director and Former Egyptian Finance Minister Ahmed Galal as speakers. The following plenaries build on the findings in this session and feature equally renounced experts.

“This year’s conference will discuss why development strategies that preceded the Arab uprisings failed and will seek to uncover new paths”. Galal commented, adding that “the participants will also explore policies aiming at both growth with a fair distribution of national wealth, ending crony capitalism and combating corruption, while forming a strong and wide reform coalition”.

The conference will also see the presentation of over 45 research papers over six parallel sessions under the themes of Macroeconomics, Microeconomics, International Economics, Finance, Labor and Human Development, and Institutional Economics.

In addition, two special sessions will be held to showcase the work carried out by ERF over the years on the themes of ‘Labor Markets’ and ‘Natural Resources.’

As always, the closing session will be devoted to celebrating the six winners of what has become a regional mark of excellence: The Best Paper Award.