Inequality Trends around the Mediterranean - Economic Research Forum (ERF)

Inequality Trends around the Mediterranean

December 05,2019
Cairo, Egypt

The rising trends of inequality are hitting developed and developing countries in different ways. The Mediterranean area constitutes notably an interesting case, because European countries overlooking the Northern side experienced a pronounced increase in inequality in the last decades, while MENA countries showing on the Southern side faced diverging trends in inequality, often associated with political instability. A call was launched early 2019 to exploit the richness of harmonized data offered by the ERF and Luxembourg Income Study (LIS), the two institutions have joined forces to offer access to the largest database available on harmonized income and expenditure/consumption data, to enable researchers to easily conduct socio-economic analysis of various dimensions of inequality using all datasets available from both of the institutions. 10 papers were accepted under this call. This conference is intended to provide a platform for discussing the findings of these 10 research papers, and bring insights from different stakeholders including researchers, policymakers and media.

Context

The rising trends of inequality are hitting developed and developing countries in different ways. Both tails of the income distribution look different: high income countries have seen enlarging top income shares often combined with declining real incomes for the bottom deciles; middle and low income countries record a more limited expansion of top incomes, while the income decline in the bottom tail is partially concealed by the existence of a large informal sector. In order to explore these issues, the Mediterranean area constitutes an interesting case, because European countries overlooking the Northern side experienced a pronounced increase in inequality in the last decades, while MENA countries showing on the Southern side faced diverging trends in inequality, often associated to political instability. At the same time, the entire area has been theatre of a massive inflow of immigrants, for either economic or political reasons. Studying inequality (in either incomes, consumption or wealth) becomes crucial for understanding underlying tensions created by economic incentives and development perspectives.

To exploit the richness of harmonized data offered by the ERF covering the MENA region countries and LIS covering most of the developed countries in addition to parts of the developing world, the two institutions have joined forces to offer access to the largest database available, containing harmonized microdata, mainly on income and expenditure/consumption, to enable researchers to easily conduct socio-economic analysis of various dimensions of inequality (income, consumption, education, employment, possession of durables, …) using all datasets available from both of the institutions. A call for proposals was launched early 2019, and the call generated ten papers, where the authors were given access to all datasets which are harmonized according to a common template.

This conference is intended to provide a platform for discussing the findings of these research activities, and the perspectives of the different stakeholders: researchers, policymakers and media.

Conference Objectives

The primary objective of the conference is to provide a platform for the discussion of research findings among a well-informed diversified audience, including international experts, regional academics and policymakers and the media.

Conference Organization

The conference will host participants from the region and abroad. Each session will include 3 panelists, each will have 15 minutes for the presentation, and the rest will be for open discussion.