Economic Impact of the Pandemic and Policy Responses. Mauritius has been successful in containing the COVID-19 pandemic thanks to strict health measures but the halt in tourism has significantly affected its tourism-dependent economy. A comprehensive set of stimulus measures to mitigate the economic impact of the pandemic, including a wage subsidy and income support for the self-employed, have provided support to firms and households.
This Selected Issues paper focuses on the prospects of growth in São Tomé and Príncipe (STP). This case study seeks explanations for STP’s relative under-performance and draws lessons for the future. It compares past economic developments in the islands and recommends policies that could most effectively foster future growth in STP. Country-specific characteristics as well as weak institutions contributed to STP’s relative underperformance since independence. Initial conditions, particularly regarding human capital and natural resources, contributed to STP’s relative underperformance, especially in the first decade after independence. Experience in the four island-states suggests that fiscal discipline, revenue mobilization, and a more active private sector, particularly in the tourism sector, may be key to tap STP’s growth potential. Fiscal discipline is needed to contain the fiscal deficit and bring the debt to a sustainable level. Continuing to strengthen public financial management, including implementing multiannual fiscal framework as recommended by the IMF technical assistance, would help.
Arnold McIntyre, Mike Xin Li, Ke Wang, and Hanlei Yun
The paper considers concepts of economic diversification with respect to exports (including service sectors) for small states. We assessed the economic performance of different groups of 34 small states over the period of 1990-2015 and found those more diversified experienced lower output volatility and higher average growth than most other small states. Our findings are consistent with conventional economic theories but we found that export diversification has a more significant impact on reducing output volatility than improving long run growth in small states. Diversification requires fundamental changes and should be contemplated in the context of a cohesive development strategy.
Leandro Medina, Mr. Andrew W Jonelis, and Mehmet Cangul
The multiple indicator-multiple cause (MIMIC) method is a well-established tool for measuring informal economic activity. However, it has been criticized because GDP is used both as a cause and indicator variable. To address this issue, this paper applies for the first time the light intensity approach (instead of GDP). It also uses the Predictive Mean Matching (PMM) method to estimate the size of the informal economy for Sub-Saharan African countries over 24 years. Results suggest that informal economy in Sub-Saharan Africa remains among the largest in the world, although this share has been very gradually declining. It also finds significant heterogeneity, with informality ranging from a low of 20 to 25 percent in Mauritius, South Africa and Namibia to a high of 50 to 65 percent in Benin, Tanzania and Nigeria.
This Selected Issues paper examines whether the recent slowdown in private sector credit growth in Cabo Verde is demand or supply driven. Although in the late 2000s, demand factors have been the main drivers in Cabo Verde’s credit market, supply dynamics’ role has increased in recent years. For Cabo Verde to promote private sector-led growth and sustainable economic development, reforms aiming at strengthening both credit demand and supply will be essential. These include improving the business environment for the private sector as well as strengthening the financial sector by ensuring prudent banking supervision and an effective resolution of the nonperforming loan overhang.
Ms. Christine Dieterich, Anni Huang, and Mr. Alun H. Thomas
As labor market data is scarce in Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA), this paper uses household survey data to analyze the determinants of the gender gap in the labor market and its welfare implications for five SSA countries in multinomial logit models with propensity score matching method. The analysis confirms that education opens up opportunities for women to escape agricultural feminization and engage in formal wage employment, but these opportunities diminish when women marry—a disadvantage increasingly relevant when countries develop and urbanization progresses. Opening a household enterprise offers women an alternative avenue to escape low-paid jobs in agriculture, but the increase in per capita income is lower than male-owned household enterprises. These findings underline that improving women’s education needs to be supported by measures to allow married women to keep their jobs in the wage sector.
Hong Chen, Lanieta Rauqeuqe, Shiu raj Singh, Mr. Yiqun Wu, and Yongzheng Yang
International trade is vital for economic prosperity in Pacific island countries, but their trade performance has been weak over the past decade with the exception of resource-rich countries. Small country size and remoteness from global economic centers may have contributed to this relatively poor performance. However, the emergence of Asia as a global economic center presents Pacific island countries with an unprecedented opportunity to develop trade with Asia, particularly in tourism for a number of PICs. Moreover, if a strong two-way linkage is established between tourism and agriculture, Pacific island countries stands a better chance to improve broad-based growth.