Media, an absolute core of equitable development

What is media? Why is it important? Can we live without it? What is its role in development?

In its simplest form, media is defined as the main means of mass communication (television, radio, and newspapers) regarded collectively; but I would say it is a functional organism that carries out specific roles in a society; the easiest and fastest way to get something done and without it, a nation can never survive!

No one can deny that media shapes our lives nowadays, since it spreads and disseminates information to a wider audience in no time. Egypt is undergoing a process of cautious transition in the media sector especially after the 25th of January revolution. The media, with specific reference to newspapers, radio, television, Internet (social media) and mobile platforms, play a crucial role in national development, which particularly aims at improving the political, economic and social lives of the people. These different forms of media have gained more popularity in the Egyptian market, but when referring to Upper Egypt, the case is not the same.

To elaborate more, the media depends on the societies in which they operate, and the audience they reach in order to have an impact and a role in development. However, none of these factors are the same everywhere, at all times, or under all conditions since every medium has a message and a target audience; aiming at influencing a change, attitudes, perceptions and decision-making.

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Measuring HDI – the old, the new and the elegant

This is a cross-post of a piece written by Srijit Mishra (Indian Gandhi Institute of Development Research – IGIDR), one of the winners of the GDN Outstanding Research in Development Award in 2013, based on the working paper “Measuring Human Development Index: The old, the new and the elegant” co-authored with Hippu Salk Kristle Nathan

The Human Development Index (HDI), since its inception in 1990, has come up with an indicator for each country that aggregates the three dimensions of health (representing how long and fulfilled a life one lives), literacy (representing knowledge) and income (as a proxy for standard of living) into a single dimension. This was an important departure from income-based measures that focused on a single dimension. Before aggregating across dimensions, each indicator was normalized and took values between zero and unity.[1]

Prior to 2010, the approach followed to aggregate was a simple averaging across dimensions. A problem with this method was that a deficit in one dimension will perfectly substitute an equal attainment in another dimension. Income remaining same, this means that a country where both health and education attainments have the same value (say, 0.4 each) will have the same HDI as another country where health is 0.2 and education is 0.6 (a situation not quite uncommon in some of the Sub-Saharan countries reeling under a HIV/AIDS epidemic a few years ago).[2]

In 2010, to address perfect substitutability across dimensions, the calculation of HDI was aggregated by the geometric mean. Usage of the geometric mean also meant that the ordinal ranking across countries would not change if the maximum used for normalizing changed therefore the pegging of a maximum to a goalpost was done away with. Note that this was an advantage of the method, but not a requirement to begin with, definitely not when millennium development goals that can influence the various outcomes that are of relevance in the measure of HDI are themselves pegged to a goalpost.

We propose another alternative method of aggregation by taking the additive inverse of the distance from the ideal. This method also addresses the perfect substitutability across dimensions. In addition, this proposed method satisfies two other conditions. One is that the emphasis across dimensions should be based on their proportionate shortfall from the ideal (note that this ideal is a goalpost and not be understood as a transcendental ideal) or is shortfall sensitive. The other is that the same gap should be considered worse-off at higher levels of attainment. Or, simply put the gaps should decrease as attainment increases.

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Read “Inclusiveness and human development: The hidden linkage?” on Mishra and Nathan’s research proposal presented at the GDN 14th Annual Conference

How can we make the Egyptian people employable?

Labor market is a valuable pillar to achieve economic and social progress and is key to alleviating poverty and promoting inclusion in Egypt. This is why labor market indicators are among the most timely and important measures of economic performance. The Economic Research Forum (ERF) recognizes the value and determines the need to comprehensively study the Egyptian Labor markets. Hence the ELMPS survey- The Egyptian Labor Market Panel Survey.

Timing of the survey results is key, after the January 25th revolution Egypt is no longer the same. Egyptians calling for their ‘right to information Access’, people need to know. ‘To complement two previous surveys of 1998 and 2006, ERF carried out a new round of the Egypt Labor Market Panel Survey (ELMPS) in 2012. It thus marks the third round of a longitudinal survey that tracks the labor market and demographic characteristics of households and individuals interviewed in the two previous rounds.’ (ERF website)

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Education in Egypt: A deep rooted problem

This post was written by Shahira Moneib (GDNet)

Higher education students of private institutions have shown to be more concerned about credentials than obtaining skills that would be beneficial to them in the labor market.

This is one of the findings of a paper entitled “Aligning Incentives to Reforming Higher Education in Egypt: The Role of Private Institutions” by Ghada Barsoum, professor at the American University in Cairo; which looks at the quality of education through the assessment and feedback of students based on their experiences. According to Barsoum, private institutions tend to be more lenient with students in terms of the amount of work and assignments given to them, which in turn affects their skills development.

Barsoum added that private institutions now compose one fifth of higher education institutions in Egypt. This is a phenomenon that has caught the attention of researchers in the field lately as the international trend is playing a strong role in several countries.

Discussed at the latest Economic Research Forum (ERF) workshop, “Incentives for Better Quality Higher Education in Egypt and Jordan”, the paper compares the learning experience between public and private higher education institutions in Egypt. In the light of her research work, Barsoum argues that rules aiming to control the quality of education in private institution have become necessary , towards a higher value of the  learning outcomes of education as opposed to credentials.

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Enhancing education cannot be measured by numbers

Nelson Mandela has once said ‘Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.’ The importance of education is unquestionable. Achieving universal primary education has actually been one of the Millennium Development Goals set by the United Nations, to be achieved by 2015. Both individuals and countries benefit substantially from increased education levels and improvements in the quality of education. Education is a necessary factor for economic development and growth. It is also the gateway of every individual to the labor market, affecting both the present and future workforce of any nation.

Given the importance of education, it has been crucial to get look at the quality of education in Egypt. This was the topic of the study conducted by Dr. Asmaa El Badawi (Research Associate ERF) using the new Egypt Labor Market Panel Survey for 2012, which she presented during ERF’s conference ‘The Egyptian Labor Market In A Revolutionary Era: Results From The 2012 Survey‘.

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Youth aspirations and unemployment durations in Egypt

Today’s morning session at the ‘The Egyptian Labor Market In A Revolutionary Era: Results From The 2012 Survey’ conference discussed two papers showcasing 2 contributing angles to the Egyptian labor market: Youth preferences to jobs and unemployment duration. Both papers were presented during the morning session.

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LACEA 2012 Annual Meeting, Lima, Perú



The 17th Annual LACEA Meeting kicked off today in Lima, Perú. Hosted by Universidad del Pacifico (UP), the annual meeting of the Latin American and Caribbean Economic Association (LACEA) and the Latin American Meeting of the Econometric Society (Lames) will take place from November 1st – 3rd, 2012. As last year, 2012 LACEA and LAMES meetings will share a common program, under a single local organization.

Topics to be covered at the Meeting will include (but not limited to):

–          The shortage of safe assets

–          Knowledge growth and the allocation of time

–          Financial crises: Why they occur and what we can do about them

–          Economic mobility and the rise of the Latin American Middle Class

–          Room foe Development – Housing Markets in Latin America and the Carribbean

–          Eurozone spillovers and policy responses

–          Quality of education in Latin America and the Caribbean: The importance of teachers

–          Inequality in the world: Facts, perceptions and public policy

–          Launch of the World Development Report on Jobs

Read the daily blog on GDNet to catch up on plenaries and parallels discussions and listen to interviews from speakers and participants.

Follow @Connect2GDNet for live updates and comments on discussion ( #LACEA2012Lima  &  #LaceaLames2012 )

Sessions from the Meeting will be broadcasted on the web

Middle East education reform think tank project

[This post is part of an ongoing project of a book on project to study the challenges involved in communicating complex ideas. The objective of this project is to gain a greater and more nuanced understanding of the challenges and opportunities for research uptake among think tanks and policy research institutes in developing countries. This post has been written by Ted Purinton and Amir ElSawy at the American University in Cairo]

Two researchers from the American University in Cairo have come together to gain a better understanding of how think tanks and policymakers discuss education reform in the Middle East. Targeting pre-university and university levels, the idea is to understand the differences between international educational trends and how they are translated and practiced in the Arab world.

This blog is a component of a project we are working on regarding the communication challenges that think tanks have in conveying complex research to diverse audiences. Our work is a subset of a larger project organized by GDNet. Our specific aim is to examine how think tanks communicate research–and most importantly, policy recommendations–to policymakers, reformers, journalists, and other researchers in the Middle East, specifically on the topic of education, at both the university and pre-university levels.

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Titling programs: Physical vs. human capital effects

Land titling programs are programs that allocate legal ownership titles to lands’ occupants. Not only titling programs affect human capital, but is also associated with a wealth effect as it induces higher expenditure on normal goods such as home consumption, education and health services. Moreover, titling programs have a substitution effect: the elimination or reduction of expropriation risk makes investment in the home more attractive and therefore increases the opportunity cost of other forms of spending. As for the effect on human capital, it remains ambiguous.

The paper “Inter-Generational Effects of Titling Programs: Physical vs. Human Capital” presented by Néstor Gandelman (Universidad ORT Uruguay) at the GDN’s 13th Annual Conference introduces a simple model illustrating the above with a focus on Uruguay as a case study where human capital investment is proxied by investment in education and healthcare.

The results of the paper confirm that titling programs favor home investment to the detriment of some aspects of human capital investment for children of 16 and under, particularly education investment (school enrolment, private school attendance, extra lessons beyond school) and healthcare investment (medical and dentist visit).

As Néstor pointed out, “aiming good is not enough”! Although effective in several dimensions, titling programs may have some undesired consequences. Therefore, it is advisable to monitor for side effects when implementing programs that change individual investment decisions.

ABCDE 2011 Plenary Session 3: Human capital formation, training and youth

Moderated by OECD Deputy Director Stefano Scarpetta, the third plenary session at the ABCDE 2011 event featured two presentations from Janet Currie (Columbia University) and Rodrigo Soares (Pontifícia Universidade Católica do Rio de Janeiro).

Mrs. Currie presented the results of her study on the effects of  early life health on adult health, education and earnings.  The research findings suggest that  there is a strong correlation between inequality among adults and early health. The question is therefore how policy can mitigate the long-lasting consequences of inequality in health at birth.

From his side, Mr. Soares shared with the audience his research on crime entry and exit among Brazilian youth. Using data from a unique survey conducted by “Observatório de Favelas” (a Brazilian NGO) with drug-selling gangs in Rio de Janeiro, the study tries to understand who these groups attract, the typical “careers” of teenagers within these organizations, and the potential exit strategies available.

After the session, we had the opportunity to record a short video interview with Mr. Yaw Nyarko (New York University), one of the discussants in the session. Mr. Nyarko argued that the the findings of the research on youth gangs in Brazil can be relevant for Africa as well. Several African countries are in fact experiencing an increase in the presence of gangs. According to Mr. Nyarko, education is key to keep the youth out of gang activities and offer them alternatives for a better future.