The weak economic performance of MENA countries in recent years would deteriorate further in the event of fresh negative shocks to the world economy. This column highlights the key vulnerabilities of the region to various external events as an essential step in the formulation of appropriate macroeconomic policies.
History suggests that in the long term, fears of technology leading to job loss and reduced wages are misplaced. But in the short and medium term, dislocation can be severe for certain types of work, places and populations. This column argues that in the transition period, policies are needed to facilitate labour market flexibility and mobility, to introduce and strengthen safety nets and social protection, and to improve education and training.
Improving the quality of the relationship between the private and public sectors in MENA countries is a strategy that is likely to enhance job creation and broader economic development. This column reports firm-level evidence from the World Bank’s Enterprise Surveys of Egypt and Turkey, which shows that political instability, high tax rates, poor electricity infrastructure and inadequate access to finance and credit are the key elements of state-business relations that are constraining employment growth.
Many countries in the Middle East and North Africa are locked in a ‘low productivity trap’ despite shifts in employment towards non-farm and non-oil sectors . This column makes the case for transformational changes in the macro-fiscal policy orientation to generate millions of new job opportunities for the growing educated youth and to improve the labour share of income to reduce poverty.