This paper examines the effect of globalization on labor markets in the advanced economies, focusing particularly on the claim that increased economic integration has widened the gap between the wages of more skilled and less skilled workers. The broad consensus of research is that globalization, both in terms of increased trade as well as increased capital mobility and foreign direct investment, has had only a modest effect on wages. Instead, changes in technology have led to a pervasive shift in demand for labor that has favored skilled workers to the detriment of less skilled workers.
In 1999, the IMF and the World Bank adopted a new frame work for supporting economic reform in low-income member countries to achieve the objectives of poverty reduction and economic growth. The frame work consists of two key elements: country-authored Poverty Reduction Strategy Papers, drawing on broad-based consultations with key stake holder groups; and a vehicle for the provision of IMF concessional lending, the Poverty Reduction andGrowth Facility. This evaluation takes stock of progress to date and attempts to identify short comings that may require course corrections in the design and implementation of the initiative.
Increased attention is being paid to assessments of the actual values of countries' real exchange rates relative to their "equilibrium" values as suggested by "fundamental" determining factors. This paper assesses the robustness of alternative approaches and models commonly used to derive equilibrium real exchange rate estimates. Using China's currency to illustrate this analysis, the variance in estimates raises serious questions regarding how robust the results are. The basic conclusion from the tests used here is that, at least for China, small changes in model specifications, explanatory variable definitions, and time periods used in estimation can lead to very substantial differences in equilibrium real exchange rate estimates. Thus, such estimates should be treated with great caution.
The rapid aging of China's population over the next few decades makes it important for a new pension system with broad and adequate coverage to be put in place quickly. Pension reforms, first initiated in 1997, have become bogged down in difficulties over dealing with the "legacy costs" associated with the relatively more generous benefits provided under the old system. This paper argues that a way forward is to separate the legacy problem from the problem of setting up a new pension system, and it suggests concrete proposals for setting up such a new system which would cover both urban and rural workers.
Data for the United States and countries in Western Europe indicate a negative correlation between the dependency ratio and both labor tax rates and the generosity of social transfers, after controlling for other factors that influence the size of the welfare state. This is despite the increased political clout of the dependent population implied by the aging of the population. This paper develops a model of intra-and inter-generational transfers and human capital formation which addresses this seeming puzzle. We show that with democratic voting, a higher dependency ratio can lead to lower taxes or less generous social transfers.
The number of studies attempting to estimate the "equilibrium" real value of China's currency has proliferated in recent years as the country's presence in world markets has grown. These studies have sought to establish whether or not a significant part of China's competitive prowess can be attributed to the foreign exchange value of the renminbi. Unfortunately, no consensus has emerged because the studies yield a very wide range of estimates. The paper looks at a sample of these studies, with estimates of undervaluation ranging from zero to nearly 50 percent. It attributes the wide variation in these estimates to the influence of such factors as the different methodologies used, explanatory variables included, subjective judgments of the various researchers in deriving their results, and instability in underlying economic relationships, especially in a rapidly developing economy like China.
This paper examines the effect of unionization on welfare and trade policy in a model of duopolists competing in a third market. It shows that the traditional result that the presence of a union necessitates a stronger strategic trade policy to reach the optimal level of welfare depends on the mode of competition. With Bertrand duopolists, a union can be welfare-improving; it can also lead to a weaker trade policy, or even reverse the direction of the optimal policy. The results highlight the importance for trade policy of understanding the nature of firm behavior and the institutional features of the labor market.
This paper develops stylized facts about the inflation process in developing countries, focusing particularly on the relationship between the exchange rate regime and the sources of inflation. Using annual data from 1964 to 1998 for 53 developing countries, we find that money growth and exchange rate changes-factors typically related to fiscal influences-are far more important in countries with floating exchange rate regimes than in those with fixed exchange rates. Instead, inertial factors dominate the inflation process in developing countries with fixed exchange rate regimes.
This paper reviews the evolution of certain price and nonprice competitiveness indicators in Chile and concludes that the pecuniary loss of competitiveness associated with the appreciation of the peso since the late 1980s has been broadly offset by productivity gains and adjustments in factor intensity, particularly in the manufacturing sector. However, there may be limited room for further advances from that point, which gives new prominence to certain policy issues such as structural reforms to increase productivity, a reassessment of the tax treatment of the mining sector, and a rebalancing of the macroeconomic policy mix to dampen speculative capital inflows.
This paper estimates measures of potential output for Israel, with the aim of providing evidence on whether the recent growth slowdown is principally a cyclical slowdown or a structural shift toward a slower growth path after the dramatic developments associated with the years of heavy immigration. Israel poses a challenge because traditional methods of measuring potential output assume relatively stable conditions over an extended period of time. We employ five methodologies to derive estimates and find that four of the measures imply the slowdown stems largely from reduced growth of potential output rather than a cyclical slowdown.
China encountered problems preserving economic stability while pursuing reforms aimed at increasing its economic flexibility and efficiency. This paper examines China's experience with market-oriented reforms since 1978, offering lessons for other centrally planned economies in the midst of transition to free markets.
This paper examines whether there is a case for temporary but persistent fiscal surpluses in economies heavily endowed with nonrenewable resources. It finds that there generally is a case. Fiscal surpluses permit replacing nonfinancial wealth with financial assets, the return on which increases public consumption possibilities of future generations for a constant across-generation tax burden. The more biased are a government’s preferences toward present generations, the lower will be the initial surpluses; the larger the finite endowment, the larger the initial surpluses. In a more general framework, including public investment, the proposition could be rephrased by replacing surpluses with stronger initial fiscal positions.
This paper presents a simple framework that illustrates the link between skill-based wage differentiation and human capital acquisition given skill-biased technical progress. The analysis points to the economic costs resulting from labor market and income redistribution policies that prevent the skill premium from playing its role in fostering human capital accumulation and the adoption of new technologies. The study compares key economic indicators among Canada, France, Germany, the United Kingdom, and the United States. Differences in wage differen-tiation and investment in new technologies among these countries could be related to policies affecting labor markets; such practices may reflect social choices.
This paper proposes an approach to setting fiscal policy that factors in the longer-term budgetary pressures that countries face owing, in particular, to population aging and rising health care costs. The approach attempts to overcome the difficulties in evaluating economic trade-offs and social welfare over extended periods. Long-term fiscal projections from the "Intergenerational Report" published as part of the Australian budget in May 2002 are used in a simple model of the Australian economy to illustrate some of the longer-term trade-offs that need to be considered in framing budgets over the medium term. These illustrative simulations, in particular, point out the importance of smoothing fiscal adjustment over time and, hence, the need for careful planning. Smoothing fiscal adjustment, however, raises a new set of questions regarding burden sharing across generations and what costs should be shared.
This paper investigates if there are circumstances where time-varying tax rates could improve welfare and whether such policy can effectively be implemented in practice. While, in principle, variable taxes could improve welfare in some cases, the paper highlights the very particular circumstances that need to prevail. With liquidity constraints, a consumption-tax break is in a better footing to boost consumption and welfare than an income-tax break. A hike in consumption taxes can also be used to restrain consumption and improve welfare under time-consistency problems induced by hyperbolic discounting. However, variable taxes are subject to serious implementation problems fettering their use.