The Arab world has new politics—now it needs new economicsby Claire Spencer / August 22, 2012 / Leave a comment
Published in September 2012 issue of Prospect Magazine
Political upheaval across North Africa and the Middle East has created pockets of success. Can this bring long-term growth?
With the benefit of hindsight, the political challenges unleashed by the Arab Spring may look like the easy part to resolve, at least for those nations that overthrew their leaders this year. Getting the economy back on track and, in most cases, reforming it completely, are now the real Herculean tasks.
In examining how the economies of the Middle East and North African region have fared over the last 18 months, it is tempting to start with official statistics.
For a start, they have been produced for international consumption by authoritarian regimes. In Tunisia, official poverty numbers had previously reported a national poverty rate of 3.8 per cent in 2005. Following the revolution, however, in September 2011 the National Statistics Institute published revised poverty estimates which show that the national average poverty rate in 2005 was 11.8 per cent. Egypt’s official statistics, including those on population, also seem to have been approximate fictions at best.