What has been the impact of Lebanon’s long-running economic crisis on the daily lives of citizens? This column documents a sharp increase in absolute poverty starting in 2019. Having at least three poor people out of every five residents of the country is a clear signal of the emergency of the situation.
Is elimination of food subsidies the right policy to address Lebanon's public finance crisis? This column reports research that uses information from consumer surveys to identify potential alternatives to such a policy. The evidence suggests that elimination of food subsidies is the worst possible option for policy-makers.
Conventional wisdom, based mainly on surveyed household income distribution statistics, suggests that inequality is generally low in Arab countries. At the same time, little attention has been devoted to social inequalities, whether in terms of outcomes or opportunities. This column introduces a forthcoming report, which offers a different narrative: based on the largest research project on the subject to date and covering 12 Arab countries, the authors argue that the region is caught in an inequality trap.
For institutional and historical reasons, countries of the Middle East and North Africa have relied mostly on consumption subsidies for reducing inequality. This column presents evidence on the distributional impact of recent subsidy reforms in Egypt.