Middle East and Central Asia > Iran, Islamic Republic of

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International Monetary Fund
The distribution of poor population in Pakistan suggests that almost 75 percent of the poor are clustered around the poverty line. The economy moved to a higher growth trajectory in the vicinity of 6–7 percent real GDP growth during FY 2002–07, and resultantly the poverty declined substantially in FY 2004/05. The productive capacity of the economy remained alien to this higher growth and new industrial capacity was hardly added to the economy. The fiscal year 2007/08 was a volatile year for Pakistan’s economy both on domestic and external fronts.
International Monetary Fund. Research Dept.
IMF research summaries on global population aging and pension reform (by Mario Catalán) and on questions about decoupling (by M. Ayhan Kose); country study on the United States (by Koshy Mathai); listing of visiting scholars at the IMF during June–August 2008; listing of contents of Vol. 55 No. 3 of IMF Staff Papers; listing of recent IMF Working Papers; and a listing of recent external publications by IMF staff.
International Monetary Fund
Although Afghanistan has made significant gains over the years, vulnerabilities remain. The economic program Afghanistan National Development Strategy (ANDS) has been developed to sustain democracy, reduce poverty, and improve growth. ANDS, an important milestone in the rebuilding and development of Afghanistan, serves as its Poverty Reduction Strategy Paper (PRSP) and uses the pillars, principles, and benchmarks of the Afghanistan Compact as a foundation to achieve its MDGs. It has given high priority to the security sector for implementing security policies and strategies and also for building an Afghan National Army for the country's security.
Mr. Rodney Ramcharan
Economic activity is risky. Returns across economic sectors can be highly variable, potentially causing costly adjustments to consumption. However, when returns are imperfectly correlated across sectors and insurance is unavailable, diversification can reduce the economic impact of shocks. Therefore, despite the well-known efficiency benefits from specialization, the risks of too little diversification have long been acknowledged. But how big are the benefits of diversification? This paper exploits the exogeneity and randomness of earthquakes to address this question. There is robust evidence that more specialized economies experience larger declines in consumption when earthquakes occur, and consistent with the insurance channel, the cost of specialization is smaller in more financially developed economies.
Mr. George T. Abed and Mr. Hamid R Davoodi

Abstract

The Middle East and North Africa (MENA) is an economically diverse region. Despite undertaking economic reforms in many countries, and having considerable success in avoiding crises and achieving macroeconomic stability, the region’s economic performance in the past 30 years has been below potential. This paper takes stock of the region’s relatively weak performance, explores the reasons for this out come, and proposes an agenda for urgent reforms.

Ms. Rina Bhattacharya, Tarik Yousef, and Mr. Pierre Dhonte
The working age population is expected to grow faster in the Middle East than in any other region in the world between now and 2015—rising annually by 2.7 percent, or 10 million people. This demographic explosion presents the region with a major challenge in terms of providing jobs, incomes, and housing for the growing population, but the expanding labor force can also be seen as an opportunity to generate higher per capita income growth on a sustainable basis. The paper concludes by emphasizing the importance of market-friendly institutions in turning the challenge into opportunity.