Christian Bogmans, Andrea Pescatori, Ervin Prifti, 05 June 2021

Global food security is being threatened by the COVID-19 pandemic and the restrictive measures to control it. Jammed food supply chains, falling incomes for some population segments, and rising food prices are placing food out of reach for millions of individuals. This column discusses the short-run relationship between food (in)security and income and food prices, and the implications of the current economic crisis for global hunger. The pandemic’s economic fallout risks setting us back a full decade on eliminating undernourishment, especially in low-income countries. Governments should strengthen social safety nets for the most vulnerable to keep inequality in check.

Markus Eberhardt, Andrea Presbitero, 26 April 2021

Commodity prices are one of the most important drivers of output fluctuations in developing countries. This column shows that a major channel through which commodity price movements can affect the real economy is their effect on financial stability. Commodity price volatility is likely to trigger financial instability and banking crises through a reduction in government revenues and a shortening of sovereign debt maturity, which in turn are likely to weaken banks’ balance sheets.

Alex Armand, Ivan Kim Taveras, 11 April 2021

When discussing the socioeconomic effects of climate change, little attention has been given to the role of the ocean. This column presents new evidence of the effect of ocean acidification on early-childhood mortality in low- and middle-income countries. Small increases in exposure to water acidity while in utero have significant effects on neonatal mortality. A closer look at possible mechanisms highlight the role of the ocean for nutrition and how overfishing represents an additional threat.

Christopher Adam, Mark Henstridge, Stevan Lee, 08 September 2020

The small open economies of sub-Saharan Africa are substantially constrained in their ability to respond to the COVID-19 shock through fiscal adjustment. The scale of contraction in external demand, combined with limited fiscal space, means that without substantial external support, feasible policy packages in many of these countries translate to austerity programmes. This column uses a dynamic general equilibrium model calibrated to data from Uganda to characterise the macroeconomics of the pandemic and its aftermath in sub-Saharan Africa. It finds that the recovery depends significantly on how the public finances are restored to sustainability, and may be accelerated with external support.

Alvaro Espitia, Aaditya Mattoo, Mondher Mimouni, Xavier Pichot, Nadia Rocha, 10 July 2019

Preferential trade agreements cover more than half of world trade. This column argues that while the 280 preferential trade agreements in existence have substantially widened the scope of free trade and reduced average applied tariffs, they have struggled against traditional bastions of protection in poorer countries and have not been able to eliminate the high levels of protection for a handful of sensitive products. While preference margins offered to partners in such agreements seem large, their significance shrinks when competition from both preferential and non-preferential sources is considered.

Xavi Cirera, Edwin A. Goñi Pacchioni, William Maloney, 29 November 2017

Innovation is widely seen as central to the growth of developing countries, and available evidence suggests that the returns to R&D investment should be extremely high.  Yet low-income countries invest very little. This column suggests that this is due to the increasing scarcity of a wide array of factors complementary to innovation, and that this explains the lack of convergence of low-income countries to the technological frontier.    

Ejaz Ghani, Stephen O'Connell, 15 June 2017

There are concerns that the premature deindustrialisation experienced by low-income countries in Africa and South Asia will negatively affect their growth. This column argues that this is not the case, since services, rather than manufacturing, are driving growth in the developing world. While demographics and urbanisation can help growth in low-income countries, the low quality of physical infrastructure is a major challenge.

Nauro Campos, Stefan Dercon, 01 March 2014

Financial development and growth have long been linked. This column argues that there remain fundamental lacunae in our understanding of the finance-growth nexus. Three main areas for future research are identified: aid, institutions and technology.

Christopher Woodruff, 27 January 2012

Christopher Woodruff talks to Viv Davies about his recent research in Sri Lanka that looks at the constraints to growth of micro-enterprises and how to generate job creation; he highlights the effects of wage subsidies, savings programmes, entrepreneurship training, firm registration and the transition from small informal firms to more dynamic enterprises. They also discuss a new 5-year competitive research grants programme, directed by Woodruff and co-ordinated by CEPR, that focuses on private enterprise development in low-income countries.

Ravi Kanbur, Andy Sumner, 08 November 2011

Many poor people no longer live in poor countries. Of the 10 countries that contribute most to global poverty, six are middle-income countries. For many aid organisations, ‘middle-income’ means they no longer qualify for the same financial aid. This column argues that such a policy would be failing up to a billion people.

Nikola Spatafora, Andrew Berg, 24 May 2011

What effect did the global financial crisis have on low-income countries? This column examines data from the last forty years to help place 2007–2009 in perspective. It finds that the global crisis was largely transmitted to low-income countries through external demand shocks that were not tremendously large relative to historical volatility. Such demand shocks are usually bad for growth in the short to medium run, but they may not have damaged poor economies' long-run growth prospects.

CEPR Policy Research