MENA Chief Economist Office
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Fields of Specialization
LABOR ECONOMICS, POLITICAL ECONOMY, SOCIAL INCLUSION, ECONOMIC GROWTH
MENA Chief Economist Office
Externally Hosted Work
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.
Publication Search Results
Now showing 1 - 6 of 6
Publication(World Bank, Washington, DC, 2022-06) Islam, Asif M. ; Gatti, RobertaThe benefits of formal training are numerous, and yet in many regions few firms utilize them. This study builds on the literature by exploring how two forms of human capital—the quality of management practices and the proportion of university educated employees—influence the adoption of formal training. Using both cross-sectional and panel firm-level data for 29 economies in Eastern Europe and Central Asia and six economies in the Middle East and North Africa, the study finds that firm management practices are positively correlated with the implementation of formal training in Eastern Europe and Central Asia but not in the Middle East and North Africa. The proportion of university educated workers is positively correlated with formal training in both regions, but the finding is more robust for the Middle East and North Africa. These findings imply significant heterogeneity across regions in the determinants of formal training, suggesting that policies should be context specific.
Publication(World Bank, Washington, DC, 2022-07) Deng, Jingyuan ; Elmallakh, Nelly ; Flabbi, Luca ; Gatti, RobertaThis paper examines the Arab Republic of Egypt’s labor market transition dynamics post–Arab Spring based on the two most recent rounds of the Egypt Labor Market Panel Survey conducted in 2012 and 2018. In addition to providing disaggregated-level analysis by examining labor market transitions by gender, education, and age groups, the paper provides a cross-country, cross-regional perspective by comparing Egypt’s labor market transitions with Mexico’s, relying on data from the Encuesta Nacional de Ocupación y Empleo. To match the span of Mexico’s transitions (which are measured over a one-year period) and Egypt’s (which are measured over six years), the analysis uses Monte Carlo simulations of repeated discrete-time Markov chains. Based on these results, the Egyptian labor market appears to be highly rigid compared to the Mexican labor market, which instead shows a large degree of dynamism regardless of individual initial labor market states at baseline. Auxiliary regression analyses focusing on transitions to and from the dominant absorbing labor market states in Egypt —public sector employment for both genders, nonparticipation for women, and the informal sector for men—show that having a post-secondary education is associated with a lower probability of remaining out of the labor force for women who were already out of the labor force at baseline, while being married at baseline is found to be a significant predictor for women to stay out of the labor force if they were already so. Among men, the better educated are found to be more likely to secure formal employment, be it in the public or private sector, and are more likely to keep their public formal jobs once they secure them.
Publication(Washington, DC : World Bank, 2022-10-05) Belhaj, Ferid ; Gatti, Roberta ; Lederman, Daniel ; Sergenti, Ernest John ; Assem, Hoda ; Lotfi, Rana ; Mousa, Mennatallah EmamThe MENA region is facing important vulnerabilities, which the current crises—first the pandemic, then the war in Ukraine—have exacerbated. Prices of food and energy are higher, hurting the most vulnerable, and rising interest rates from the global tightening of monetary policy are making debt service more burdensome. Part I explores some of the resulting vulnerabilities for MENA. MENA countries are facing diverging paths for future growth. Oil Exporters have seen windfall increases in state revenues from the rise in hydrocarbon prices, while oil importers face heightened stress and risk—from higher import bills, especially for food and energy, and the depreciation of local currencies in some countries. Part II of this report argues that poor governance, and, in particular, the lack of government transparency and accountability, is at the root of the region’s development failings—including low growth, exclusion of the most disadvantaged and women, and overuse of such precious natural resources as land and water.
The Quality of Health and Education Systems Across Africa: Evidence from a Decade of Service Delivery Indicators Surveys(Washington, DC: World Bank, 2021-11-18) Gatti, Roberta ; Andrews, Kathryn ; Avitabile, Ciro ; Conner, Ruben ; Sharma, Jigyasa ; Yi Chang, AndresHave teachers mastered the subject matter they are teaching? Can doctors accurately diagnose and treat critical health conditions? Are schools and health facilities sufficiently stocked with needed equipment and supplies? Are they sufficiently supported and staffed to optimize learning and health care outcomes? For the past decade, the World Bank’s Service Delivery Indicators (SDI) surveys have collected nationally representative data in countries across Africa to answer these questions. The surveys aim to measure the quality of services where they meet citizens: in schools and health facilities. The Quality of Health and Education Systems Across Africa: Evidence from a Decade of Service Delivery Indicators Surveys identifies areas of achievement and constraint in service delivery, shedding light on how service delivery may foster or stunt human capital accumulation. SDI surveys show that schools and health clinics across Africa are still falling short in some critical areas. The delivery of primary care services is very heterogenous between and within countries. Many health facilities lack the basic necessities to provide proper care, such as essential medicines, basic diagnostic equipment, and adequate water and sanitation. Moreover, health care providers’ ability to diagnose and treat common health conditions correctly is low and distributed unevenly. Health personnel’s absence from health facilities remains a concern across the surveyed countries. Learning is low, and, not unlike health care, levels of student learning vary significantly across countries: less than half of grade 4 students can recite a simple sentence or perform basic mathematical operations. This deficient learning is correlated with teachers’ low levels of content knowledge and sub-par pedagogy skills. Some schools are also missing crucial inputs, such as blackboards or private and gendered toilets, and struggle with high pupil-teacher ratios. Despite these challenges, success stories in both sectors illustrate the quality of service delivery that could be achieved and showcase the dedication of teachers and medical staff across Africa. By studying data from thousands of facilities, considering the local context, and drawing insights from the literature, this book offers important insights for how countries can strengthen health and education systems and build back better in the wake of the massive disruptions brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Publication(Washington, DC: World Bank, 2021-04-02) Gatti, Roberta ; Lederman, Daniel ; Nguyen, Ha M. ; Alturki, Sultan Abdulaziz ; Fan, Rachel Yuting ; Islam, Asif M. ; Rojas, Claudio J.Economies in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) remain in crisis. The World Bank estimates the regional output to have contracted 3.8 percent in 2020 and expects it to rebound by only 2.2 percent in 2021. The regional output is expected to be 7.2% below where it would be in 2021 without the pandemic. The region’s average GDP per capita is estimated to have declined 5.3 percent in 2020 and expected to rebound by only 0.6 percent in 2021. The number of poor people in the region—those making less than the $5.50 per day poverty line—is expected to increase from 176 million in 2019 to a conservative estimate of 192 million people by the end of 2021. The region’s public debt is expected to rise significantly. Most notably, MENA oil importers have the highest levels of debt. As the region copes with the economic consequences of the pandemic, most countries will face tensions between short-term needs and the long-term risks of debt-financed government spending. Countries must make tough choices along the road to recovery. During the pandemic, fiscal spending is arguably best used to support vulnerable families and invest in public health—such as disease surveillance, data transparency, and vaccinations. Public health investment as a short-term response to the pandemic could also bring long-term gains. As the pandemic subsides, there are good reasons to be cautious with additional fiscal stimulus, especially for countries with high debt, poor governance, and lack of transparency. After the pandemic, economic growth remains the most sustainable way to reduce the debt-GDP ratio, and this requires much-needed deep structural reforms. Strong institutions can chart a path to recovery. Investing in testing, disease surveillance, and data transparency can reduce the economic costs of the pandemic. As the pandemic subsides, effective and transparent pandemic surveillance would help boost demand from domestic and foreign sources. Good governance in public investment decisions can raise the effectiveness of public investment. Public debt transparency can help reduce borrowing costs. Institutional reforms can be implemented with limited fiscal costs and hold the promise of boosting long-run growth.
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.