MENA Chief Economist Office
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Fields of Specialization
LABOR ECONOMICS, POLITICAL ECONOMY, SOCIAL INCLUSION, ECONOMIC GROWTH
MENA Chief Economist Office
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Last updated May 17, 2023
Roberta Gatti is the World Bank’s chief economist of the Middle East and North Africa region and former chief economist of the Human Development Practice Group, where she led the SDI and the Human Capital Index initiatives. She joined the World Bank in 1998 as a Young Professional in the Development Research Group. Her research includes theoretical and empirical contributions to labor and household economics, political economy, growth, and social inclusion. She has authored multiple World Bank flagship reports, including Jobs for Shared Prosperity and Being Fair, Faring Better. She has taught at Georgetown University and Johns Hopkins University.
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Now showing 1 - 8 of 8
Publication(Washington, DC: World Bank, 2013-05) Gatti, Roberta ; Morgandi, Matteo ; Grun, Rebekka ; Brodmann, Stefanie ; Angel-Urdinola, Diego ; Moreno, Juan Manuel ; Marotta, Daniela ; Schiffbauer, Marc ; Mata Lorenzo, ElizabethIn the aftermath of the Arab Spring, when thousands of young women and men fought for the opportunity to realize their aspirations and potential, the question of jobs continues to be crucial in the Middle East and North Africa region. This report uses jobs as a lens to weave together the complex dynamics of employment creation, skills supply, and the institutional environment of labor markets. Consistent with the framework of the 2013 World Development Report on jobs, of which this report is the regional companion, this work goes beyond the traditional links between jobs, productivity, and living standards to include an understanding of how jobs matter for individual dignity and expectations—an aspect that was clearly central to the Arab Spring. Just as important, this report complements the economic perspective with an analysis of political economy equilibrium, with a view to identifying mechanisms that would trigger a reform process. As such, the report has three objectives: First, it seeks to provide an in-depth characterization of the dynamics of labor markets in the Middle East and North Africa and to analyze the barriers to the creation of more and better jobs. It does so by taking a cross-sectoral approach and identifying the distortions and incentives that the many actors—firms, governments, workers, students, education, and training systems—currently face, and which ultimately determine the equilibrium in labor markets. Second, the report proposes a medium term roadmap of policy options that could promote the robust and inclusive growth needed to tackle the structural employment challenge for the region. Third, the report aims to inform and open up a platform for debate on jobs among a broad set of stakeholders, with the ultimate goal of contributing to reach a shared view of the employment challenges and the reform path ahead.
Publication(World Bank, Washington, DC, 2011-12) Gatti, Roberta ; Angel-Urdinola, Diego F. ; Silva, Joana ; Bodor, AndrasThis quick note provides an overview of the World Bank report striving for better jobs: the challenge of informality in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA). The report was completed as a revolutionary wave of demonstrations and protests swept across the Arab world. Millions of young people were chanting 'dignity' and 'social justice' in the region, underlining deep-seated feelings of exclusion and inequality of opportunities. Demanding democracy, human rights, and better governance, young Arabs were also striving to realize their economic aspirations in a region rich in human and physical capital. However, while there has been economic growth for a number of years in MENA countries, this has not led to an adequate number of good jobs and has succeeded, at best, in generating low-quality, informal jobs.
Publication(World Bank, Washington, DC, 2010-09) Brodmann, Stefanie ; Pouget, Yann ; Gatti, RobertaIncreased labor mobility bears large potential benefits for human development and poverty reduction through various channels including more competitive global labor markets and increased efficiency in the matching of skills supply and demand. Bank support for enhanced and better managed migration can complement broader efforts to reduce poverty and promote human development, similarly to how Bank projects on trade liberalization have helped in reducing market distortions and raise welfare. With Middle East and North Africa (MENA) countries becoming increasingly eager to adopt a proactive approach to improve migration outcomes, cross-sectoral Bank teams are well positioned to respond to increasing demand for migration management systems. Labor mobility has proven to be a forceful driver of convergence in living standards. Estimates suggest that gains from the liberalization of migration could surpass welfare gains from trade liberalization. Currently, migration represents the main form of global and regional integration for MENA countries. In the future, increased labor mobility could foster regional economic integration, a recognized priority within the Arab World Initiative (AWI).
Publication(World Bank, Washington, DC, 2014-08-26) Gatti, Roberta ; Angel-Urdinola, Diego F. ; Silva, Joana ; Bodor, AndrasEconomic growth has been sustained for many years pre-crisis in the region, but this has not resulted in the creation of an adequate number of jobs and has succeeded, at best, in generating low-quality, informal jobs. The report addresses one margin of exclusion: informal employment and the vulnerabilities and lack of opportunities associated with it. The report analyzes the constraints that prevent informal workers from becoming formal and discusses policy options to effectively address these constraints. This report looks at informality through a human development angle and focuses particularly on informal employment. Informality is a complex phenomenon, comprising unpaid workers and workers without social security or health insurance coverage, small or micro-firms that operate outside the regulatory framework and large registered firms that may partially evade corporate taxes and social security contributions. The first section provides a detailed profile of informal workers in the region. The second section describes the characteristics of informality in micro-firms that operate outside the regulatory framework and in larger firms that do not fully comply with social security contribution requirements and tax obligations. The third section presents informality and the firm. The fourth section focuses on informality: choice or exclusion? The fifth section discusses policy options for effectively expanding coverage of health insurance and pension systems and promoting the creation of better quality jobs.
Publication(World Bank, Washington, DC, 2019-01) Gatti, Roberta ; Mohpal, AakashThis paper compiles project-level data from the World Bank's lending history to describe patterns and the composition of its portfolio. The paper focuses particularly on the effect of countries' transition from International Development Association to International Bank for Reconstruction and Development status, which marks the point when countries start borrowing at near market rates, on lending for human development sectors (education, health and social protection). Using country and year fixed effects, which account for unobservable country characteristics (for example, national priorities) and time effects (for example, market interest rates), the paper finds that human development lending decreases when countries graduate from the International Development Association. The average difference in the binary indicator of lending for any sector is 27 percent while it is 60 percent for human development sectors. The share of human development lending (lending by human development Global Practices over total lending) is also 6.9 percentage points (30 percent) lower. This decline in human development lending in International Bank for Reconstruction and Development countries is accompanied by a greater use of budget support. The results are robust to controlling for non-World Bank aid, as well as various alternative specifications and estimation samples.
Publication(World Bank, Washington, DC, 2019-10) Andrews, Kathryn ; Avitabile, Ciro ; Gatti, RobertaUsing a new data set comprised of publicly available information, this paper provides cross-country evidence on domestic government spending for human capital in recent years. Creating a measure of social spending that covers the three sectors of health, education, and social protection has proven to be a challenging task. Only for health spending is there high data coverage over time and across countries. Education and, especially, social protection display large gaps. Increases in social sector spending have generally been slow and unsteady. Although education spending in low-income countries has seen a stable and steady increase, spending on health has been remarkably flat. Human capital outcomes are only weakly correlated with spending in the three sectors. Finally, this paper discusses future research required to provide guidance on how much and what type of investment is needed to achieve high levels of human capital.
Publication(World Bank, Washington, DC, 2018-01) Flabbi, Luca ; Gatti, RobertaThis note summarizes some of the key contributions in the macro- and micro- economic literature on the pathways linking human capital and income growth. Rather than completeness, the objective of this work is to distill some of the most relevant threads in the evolution of these literatures using a human capital lens, with a view to provide a useful yet parsimonious conceptual framework and an update on empirical results. The note first describes the human capital model (section 1). It then outlines the main theoretical elements of growth theory and presents empirical results from the cross-country regressions and development accounting literature to gauge to what extent human capital affects growth at the aggregate level (sections 2, 3 and 4). The note then reviews the micro empirical literature estimating labor income returns of human capital investments (sections 5 and 6). The conclusion draws comparisons between the two empirical approaches and provides a brief critical assessment on how to interpret the empirical results. Investing in human capital is a promising strategy to attain stable and positive growth. The magnitude of the effects is country-specific and varies depending on the population of interest, the policy under consideration, and the human capital component considered.
Publication(World Bank, Washington, DC, 2019-09) D'Souza, Ritika ; Gatti, Roberta ; Kraay, AartThis paper documents inequality in health and education outcomes by constructing an index of human capital disaggregated by quintiles of socioeconomic status (SES) for a sample 51 mostly low- and middle-income countries. The index measures the expected future human capital of children born today, following the methodology of the World Bank Human Capital Index that was launched in October 2018. Within-country disparities in human capital outcomes across SES quintiles are large, accounting for roughly one-third of the total variation. On average, human capital outcomes increase with income at roughly the same rate across socio-economic groups within countries as they do across countries.