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.
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