Robalino, Jenkins, and El Maroufi develop a model of optimal growth to assess the risks of an HIV/AIDS epidemic and the expected economic impact in nine countries in the Middle East and North Africa region--Algeria, Djibouti, Egypt, Iran, Jordan, Lebanon, Morocco, Tunisia, and Yemen. The model incorporates an HIV/AIDS diffusion component based on two transmission factors--sexual intercourse and exchange of infected needles among intravenous drug users. Given high levels of uncertainty on the model parameters that determine the dynamics of the epidemic and its economic impact, the authors explore large regions of the parameter space. The prevalence rates in year 2015 would be below 1 percent in 16 percent of the cases, while they would be above 3 percent in 50 percent of the cases. On average, GDP losses across countries for 2000-2025 could approximate 35 percent of today's GDP. In all countries it is possible to observe scenarios where losses surpass today's GDP. The authors quantify the impact of expanding condom use and access to clean needles for intravenous drug users. They show that these interventions act as an insurance policy that increases social welfare. They also show that delaying action for five years can cost, on average, the equivalent of six percentage points of today's GDP. This paper--a product of the Human Development Group, Middle East and North Africa Region--is part of a larger effort in the region to raise awareness about the social and economic cost of HIV/AIDS. David Robalino may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.
"In this paper the authors reconsider the idea of an earnings-related pension system with reserves invested in indexed government bonds as a mechanism to both ensure financial sustainability and improve security. They start by reviewing the characterization of the sustainable rate of return of an earnings-related pension system with pay-as-you-go financing. The authors show that current proxies for the sustainable rate, including the Swedish "gyroscope," are not stable and propose an alternative measure that depends on the growth of the buffer-stock and the pay-as-you-go asset. Using a simple one-sector macroeconomic model that embeds a notional account pension system they then show how GDP indexed government bonds, if combined with the right measure for the sustainable rate of return on contributions, could be used to generate a sustainable and secure earnings-related pension system, without becoming a fiscal burden. The proposal is particularly attractive for countries considering reforms to earnings-related systems that have accumulated a large implicit pension debt. In this case, the government bonds allow the financing of this debt in a transparent way. The proposed mechanism can also facilitate the transition to a fully-funded pension system when the government bonds are allowed to be traded. "--World Bank web site.