The Lack of Productive Employment in the Middle East and North Africa: A Comparison with East Asia - Economic Research Forum (ERF)

The Lack of Productive Employment in the Middle East and North Africa: A Comparison with East Asia

Shantayanan Devarajan and Howard Pack


Date:
October, 2018

NO.
24

Length:
11 pages

Topic:
O2. Development Planning and Policy
O1. Economic Development

In a nutshell

  • East Asian countries have achieved structural transformation, whereas MENA countries have yet to do so—to provide jobs for their large youth populations.
  • East Asian countries succeeded because they adopted a package of: openness to exports, FDI, focus on technical higher education, and high investment with macroeconomic stability.
  • The Arab social contract, with guaranteed public sector jobs, subsidized food and fuel, and free basic education, coupled with inward-looking trade and investment policies, prevented MENA countries from pursuing many of the East-Asian policies, much less the whole package.
  • The need to shift to a more open trade and investment policy, technology-oriented education, and greater reliance on private-sector jobs is great, especially since high youth unemployment in MENA may have contributed to the violence and instability in the region recently.
Authors

Shantayanan Devarajan

World Bank


Authors

Howard Pack

Professor Emeritus of Business and Public Policy in the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania


Project

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