Economic Research Forum (ERF)

Hassan Hakimian

Founding contributors

Hassan Hakimian
University of London

Hassan Hakimian is the Director of the London Middle East Institute and a Reader in Economics at SOAS, University of London. He has published widely on Middle Eastern economies with a special focus on Iran. He is a founding member and currently the President of the International Iranian Economic Association (IEA) and a Research Fellow and member of the Advisory Committee of the ERF. He is the Series Editor for 'Routledge Political Economy of the Middle East and North Africa’.

Content by this Author

Can Trump’s sanctions break Iran?

Iran and the United States seem to have reversed roles with the Trump administration's decision to withdraw from the 2015 nuclear deal. As this Project Syndicate column explains, Iran’s isolation before the agreement now contrasts with America's determination to swim against the global tide.

Iran’s long economic journey

The landslide re-election of Iran’s president, Hassan Rouhani, in 2017 reflects the by now familiar pattern of continuity and change that has characterised Iran’s major elections over the last two decades. But, as this Project Syndicate column explains, it also stands out in one key way: Rouhani has remained popular despite pursuing painful macroeconomic stabilisation. Now he needs to look beyond current conditions to address entrenched structural challenges facing the Iranian economy.

Why economists missed the Arab Spring

Just prior to the Arab Spring, many of the economic and social indicators for the countries of the Middle East and North Africa painted quite a favourable picture of the region. This Project Syndicate column explores why economists failed to anticipate the unrest. One key lesson is that improved economic performance cannot be viewed as an insurance policy against political instability.

From booming oil revenues to inclusive growth

The first ten years of the twenty-first century saw an unprecedented surge in oil prices and highly favourable incomes for oil-exporting countries in the Middle East – yet it culminated in social and political upheaval. This column reports research on the extent to which the growth experiences of those countries in that decade may be considered to have been ‘inclusive’ of a broad swathe of society.

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Why the West got rich and the Middle East did not

Today’s rulers of the three largest Middle Eastern economies all look to religious authorities as a key source of legitimacy. Drawing on a broad sweep of historical analysis, this column explores what this might mean for the region’s economic future. One notable danger is that the types of people who would push for policies that promote long-run growth are excluded from the political bargaining table.

Why Turkish growth ended

Following a period of rapid economic growth, the Turkish economy has slowed significantly since 2007. This column argues that these economic ups and downs reflect institutional improvements in the aftermath of the country’s 2001 financial crisis, followed by an ominous slide in the quality of these economic and political institutions.

Implications of the current low oil prices for MENA countries

The current low oil price environment, in part driven by the US shale oil revolution, has important macroeconomic implications for the Middle East and North Africa (MENA). This column reports research evidence on its likely impact on both oil-exporting and oil-importing countries in the region.

Prospects for development with democracy in the Arab world

What are the prospects for democracy in the Arab world? This column expresses the hope that as conflict-afflicted countries embark on their programmes of economic reconstruction, autocratic institutions will not be re-established under the pretext of the need for a speedy and steady recovery. The optimal path of development necessarily includes robust growth, equity as well as democracy.

An agenda for reducing income inequality in the Arab countries

What can be done to reduce income inequality in Arab countries? This column explores issues of measurement as well as potential policy measures. It concludes by calling for a new multipurpose pan-Arab survey that would allow for an evidence-based decision-making process on the impact of proposed policies on poverty and inequality.

The United Arab Emirates’ dilemma

As energy-producing economies strive to reduce their reliance on oil revenues, they must strike a balance between the competing demands of fiscal sustainability and steady growth of the non-energy sector. This column outlines how the United Arab Emirates is addressing this challenge.

Freedom for women is crucial for economic progress in MENA

The Middle East was once the cradle of civilisation: can it prosper once again? Looking back at lessons from the European Enlightenment, this column argues that if the region wants to advance economically, it needs to advance in terms of its treatment of women. Female agency is central to understanding the West’s technological leadership of the past two centuries.

Inequality in higher education: Egypt, Jordan and Tunisia

Attainment of higher education is strikingly unequal in Egypt and Tunisia, and a little less so in Jordan. This column reports research showing that in all three countries, family background is the primary driver of inequality. Particularly in Egypt and Tunisia, public spending on higher education is regressive, with the result that what purports to be a meritocratic and equitable system in reality perpetuates inequality.

Oil exporters’ responses to the US fracking boom

What are the implications of low oil prices for the economic and political stability of Arab oil-exporting countries such as Saudi Arabia? This column explores the impact of the US fracking boom on Arab oil revenues – and how policy-makers in these countries should respond.

Pension reform that avoids harming MENA labour markets

To tackle the deficits in their pension systems, should governments in Arab countries raise social security contributions, reduce pension levels or increase the statutory retirement age? This column summarises the results of research assessing the costs and benefits of different pension reforms in terms of their impact on different generations and on the labour market.