Hussain, Sahar

Global Practice on Macro & Fiscal Management
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Competitiveness, Jobs and private sector development, Competition policy, Economic growth
Global Practice on Macro & Fiscal Management
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Last updated January 31, 2023
Sahar Hussain joined the World Bank as an Economist in February 2013 in MENA’s Poverty Reduction and Economic Management unit. Prior to that, she worked for the Egyptian Centre for Economic Studies (ECES) in Cairo as an economist on issues related to the economics of transitions, competition policy, and energy subsidies. She was also an economic consultant for the Planning Commission of Pakistan.  Sahar has a master’s degree in development economics and policy analysis from the University of Nottingham and a Bachelor’s degree from London School of Economics.

Publication Search Results

Now showing 1 - 2 of 2
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    Jobs or Privileges : Unleashing the Employment Potential of the Middle East and North Africa
    (Washington, DC: World Bank, 2015) Schiffbauer, Marc ; Sy, Abdoulaye ; Hussain, Sahar ; Sahnoun, Hania ; Keefer, Philip
    This report shows that in MENA, policies that lower competition and create an unleveled playing field abound and constrain private sector job creation. These policies take different forms across countries and sectors but share several common features: they limit free-entry in the domestic market, exclude certain firms from government programs, increase regulatory burden and uncertainty on non-privileged firms, insulate certain firms and sectors from foreign competition, and create incentives that discourage domestic firms from competing in international markets. The report shows that such policies are often captured by a few privileged firms with deep political connections, and that these policies persist despite their apparent cost to society. The millions of workers, consumers, and the majority of entrepreneurs who bear the brunt of that cost are often unaware of the adverse impact of these policies on the jobs and economic opportunities to which they aspire. This limits the scope for internal country debate and curtails the policy dialogue necessary for reform. Thus, Middle East and North Africa (MENA) countries face a critical choice in their quest for higher private sector growth and more jobs: promote competition, equal opportunities for all entrepreneurs and dismantle existing privileges to specific firms or risk perpetuating the current equilibrium of low job creation.
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    Do Politically Connected Firms Innovate, Contributing to Long-Term Economic Growth?
    (World Bank, Washington, DC, 2018-06) Francis, David ; Hussain, Sahar ; Schiffbauer, Marc
    This paper presents new evidence that cronyism reduces long-term economic growth by discouraging firms' innovation activities. The analysis is based on novel establishment survey data from The Arab Republic of Egypt which provides information on establishments' political connections, their innovation activities, and their access to policy privileges. The analysis finds that the probability that firms invest in products new to the firm increases from under 1 percent for politically connected firms to over 7 percent for unconnected firms. The results are robust across different innovation measures. Despite innovating less, politically connected firms are more capital intensive, as they face lower marginal cost of capital due to the generous policy privileges they receive, including exclusive access to input subsidies, public procurement contracts, favorable exchange rates, and financing from politically connected banks. These privileges are largest when compared with their direct competitors operating in the same 4-digit sectors. The findings suggest that connected firms out-rival their competitors by lobbying for privileges instead of innovating. In the aggregate, these policy privileges reduce Egypt's long-term growth potential by diverting resources away from innovation to the inefficient capital accumulation of a few large, connected firms. A wide array of supporting evidence suggests that this effect is causal and not due to selection.