Oil prices have taken a big hit as a result of the global pandemic, costing Middle Eastern economies billions of dollars every day and leading to downsizing and restructuring. As this column explains, forecasts of future prices focus on two divergent factors: how long will it take for demand for oil to recover; and how effective will be the agreement among the OPEC+ countries in keeping supply at bay. The lessons from history do not suggest a promising outlook for oil-exporting economies’ ability to raise prices.
Women in MENA today spend less time in childbearing and are more qualified for market work – so why are their labour force participation rates so low compared with men? This column reports new evidence on how having a college education affects the way that married Iranian women divide their time between domestic work, market work and educating their children.
In December 2010, Iran introduced an ambitious energy subsidy reform that combined large price increases for fuel with generous cash transfers. This column explains the key lesson: that despite severe flaws in the programme’s implementation, it is possible to reduce the distortions caused by cheap energy and offer citizens a minimum basic income that is not excessively harmful to work incentives.