Street protests are enveloping many countries in the Middle East and North Africa – and the fundamental cause is a growing sense of individual uncertainty and distrust of governments. This column argues that governments in the region must restore confidence in their abilities to lead change. More open markets can help to unleash the full potential of individuals in MENA countries – but to do so requires open governments.
In an effort to explain and find policy responses to the Arab Spring, there has been considerable focus on inequality. This column summarises the findings of a major research project on the issue.
The more rapid growth of employment in small and medium-sized businesses compared with both micro enterprises and large firms in the Egyptian private sector presages the re-emergence of the ‘missing middle’. This column explains why this is a positive phenomenon that needs to be promoted and reinforced.
GDP per capita is a useful metric of a nation’s average income, but it is widely considered to be incomplete as a measurement of prosperity. This column introduces a new measure that is particularly relevant for the countries of the Middle East and North Africa, namely productive capacity. Accounting for the atypical population structures and high resource rents in the region matters for developing a more accurate assessment of economic wellbeing and people’s lived experiences.
Internal migration has the potential either to improve or to hinder educational opportunities. In Egypt, rates of internal migration are low and it is undertaken primarily by adults who have finished their education and are moving to work or marry. This column reports research evidence showing that the children of rural to urban migrants stay longer in school and complete more education. The improved economic situation of their migrant parents plays an important role in their persistence in school.
What does most recent multidimensional poverty assessment of the Middle East and North Africa reveal about health, education, living standards and social security in the region. This column outlines the evidence and potential policy responses.
What should be the role of the state in MENA economies? This column argues that countries in the region should try to increase their level of accountability towards their citizenry by inculcating a culture of ‘value for money’, promoting the emergence of independent, yet accountable, regulators and relying less on the state to rejuvenate their economies.