On November 28, 2014, a team of local PEP researchers in Macedonia - who had been granted support under the 1st round of the PAGE program - organized a policy conference in the capital, Skopje, to communicate and discuss their PEP research findings and related policy recommendations to/with policy makers and other stakeholders at the national level. The event attracted high-level participants from several ministries of the Macedonian government and other important stakeholder institutions (see below for key participants).
This particular PEP study, of which the outcomes were discussed, aimed to explore if remittances may be used to support the entrepreneurial activities of unemployed youth in recipient households in Macedonia. Find out more about this PEP project and related publications.
Research issues and findings
On the one hand, low job creation and high unemployment are some of the most important problems currently facing Macedonia where, for example, the youth unemployment rate remains persistently high around 55%. On the other hand, the country and its population relies heavily on remittances from its outward migration; indeed, with a average value of about 4% of the country's GDP since 2004 (roughly the same as foreign direct investment), remittances represent both an important income for households, as well as an important source of financing the country's current account deficit. The specific question posed by the PEP research team is whether remittances deal solely with short-term poverty relief - i.e. without providing the poor with the tools to exit poverty by their own means - or if remittances may potentially have a positive effect on entrepreneurship.
Among other outcomes, the team's findings suggest that youth living in households receiving remittances have considerably larger probability to establish their own business, ranging between 28% and 33%, compared to the non-youth non-receiving counterparts. Find out more about the research project, methods and findings through the following PEP policy brief.
Policy linkages, attendance and impact
As a result of several previous consultation meetings and dissemination efforts from the research team, the event attracted a number of very high-level participants including, among others, the main advisor for self-employment measures from the Ministry of Labor and Social Policy, the Director of the Employment Service Agency and the Chief Economist of the National Bank of Macedonia. As these three institutions were targeted by the team as the main potential users of the research findings for policymaking, they were invited as panelists to take active part in the discussions around the issues and findings.
Other noteworthy attendants included members the Cabinet of the Vice-Minister for Economic Affairs, as well as representatives from the World Bank Office and the International Labour Organization (ILO), who also actively participated in the discussions.
In addition to the policy recommendations ensued from the PEP research project findings, the discussions also revolved around their feasibility of these recommendation, and related issues. Comments from the participants suggest strong commitment to take account of the findings in their policy agenda, as well as to incorporate some of these recommendations into various strategic policy documents, inclulding (but not limited to) the National Strategy for Employment 2015-2010 and its first annual (2015-2016) Operational Plan, as well as the National Strategy for Diaspora.
In fact, two of the research team members, Marjan Petreski and Nikica Mojsoska-Blazevsk, were invited to attend a special meeting of the Ministry of Labor and Social Policy, a few days later, to provide inputs from their PEP project and other research work to inform the design of the 2015-2016 Operational Plan of the Employment Strategy.
Finally, the PEP research issues and recommendations benefited from wide media coverage, with the publication of an impressive list of at least 20 news reports on the following day(s). To ensure accurate report of the findings, the research team not only provided all 21 press and news agencies (TV, magazines, daily newspapers and web portals) present with a detailed information package, but also held a special pre-conference meeting with their representatives. A week later, two of the team members were invited as guest speakers on the Economic magazine TV show of the national TV station Alsat-M (link to the video clip).