Development Policy
2012. ‘The Doing Business Indicators, Economic Growth and Regulatory Reform’, Policy Research Working Paper No 6176. Washington, D.C.: The World Bank.
Abstract: Improving the investment climate is among the top priorities in development. The World Bank Group's Doing Business reports have become an important guide and benchmark to inform regulatory reforms aimed at unleashing the potential of the private sector. This paper discusses the potential role of the Doing Business Indicators in the reform process. Generally, the Doing Business studies are constrained in their prescriptive power for policy making. However, governments that nonetheless choose to use the Doing Business reports for guidance in the reform process can aim to improve their Doing Business ranking to enhance the visibility of their general reform efforts; or they can aim at maximizing the impact of reform on economic growth. In this case, the evidence suggests that focusing on indicators relating to credit and the enforcement of contracts is the most important. Indicators related to cost have the largest potential for fostering growth.
2012. ‘Jobless Growth? Okun’s Law in East Asia’, Policy Research Working Paper No 6156. Washington, D.C.: The World Bank.
Abstract: Was economic growth in East Asia jobless? This paper addresses this question using data from eight East Asian countries during the period between 1997 and 2011 to estimate the Okun's Law Coefficient, which captures the relationship between growth and employment. The analysis suggests that growth was not jobless. However, there is considerable variation across countries. Generally, the effect of growth on employment tends to magnify under more flexible hiring and firing rules. Yet even where labor markets are more tightly regulated, economic growth affects employment, not necessarily in the aggregate but in its composition. There is evidence that agricultural employment moves counter-cyclically, as opposed to non-agricultural employment. The effect is particularly pronounced in periods of economic crisis, suggesting that agriculture may serve as a shock-absorber for workers laid off in the industrial sector. Isolating non-agricultural employment reveals a stronger relationship between growth and job creation.
Issues in Development
Forthcoming. ‘Islam and Democracy: A Response’, Public Choice 154(3-4)315-321.
Abstract: A debate has emerged whether countries with Muslim majorities are intrinsically more likely to be autocratic. Recent studies have traced this to the allegedly repressive nature of Islam. This article replicates the most recent study on this topic, published in Public Choice (Potrafke in Public Choice 151:185–192, 2012), and demonstrates that the effect is not robust to a number of sensible alterations to the statistical specification. The effect between Islam and democracy is spurious. There is no causal relationship between Islam and democracy.
NOTE: In a response to my response, Potrafke (forthcoming) makes a number of false accusations. 1) Data: The countries for which he claims I incorrectly replaced missing observations for the size of the military do not have a standing army and thus their score on the military variable is zero; 2) Sampling: I did not exclude the Middle East from my analysis; the point my response makes is that characteristics of this region other than religion (such as the role of the military and spatial correlation of regime type) have so for not been adequately accounted for. I use all available observations when including these missing variables. I also replicate his results using all observations and including a dummy for the Middle East as an alternative to preliminarily excluding it from the sample; the results are reported in the appendix. My point stands: Potrafke’s results are spurious. 3) Israel: I took no position on Israel other than arguing that - given regional tension - it is unlikely to serve as a model for its neighbors. 4) Picking on the wrong guy: In his response Potrafke claims that he merely meant to reinforce results that are already widely accepted; if this is so, what is the point of his article? I chose to replicate his analysis as the latest -- and hence presumably most up-to-date -- research on this.
2010. ‘African Perspectives on China-Africa: Modelling Popular Perceptions and their Economic and Political Determinants’, Afrobarometer Working Paper Series (also Oxford Development Studies 40(4)492-516).
Abstract: China's recent political and economic inroads into Africa have generated much interest in the current literature, with scholars and policymakers endeavouring to assess the merits and risks implicit in this renewed engagement. Absent from the literature, however, are systematic analyses of African perceptions of these rapidly growing China–Africa links, and what determines these perceptions. This article fills this void by examining not only African attitudes towards China's African presence, but also investigating the considerations that inform these views. Using multi-level modelling techniques, this article estimates the effects of Chinese foreign direct investment (FDI), Sino-African trade and notions of democracy and human rights on African attitudes towards “China-in-Africa”. The results suggest that Africans' views of China are nearly equivalent to those that they hold vis-à-vis Western countries. The perceived impact of imports from China has a negative effect. However, this effect is counter-balanced by perceptions of China's impact on poverty alleviation—in line with its greater focus on economic, social and cultural, as opposed to civic and political human rights—in particular through FDI. Among those who value civic and political human rights, in contrast, attitudes towards China are less favourable. This finding is echoed with respect to democratic governance, though the effect is less stable. The results are derived from Afrobarometer data covering 20 African countries.
2007. ‘The EU as a Security Actor: The Case of Bosnia’ in S. Bianchini, M. Marko,  J. Nation, and M. Uvalic (eds.) Regional Cooperation, Peace Enforcement, and the Role of the Treaties in the Balkans, Ravenna: Longo Editore (with E.J. Kirchner).
Abstract not available.