Guide The Arab Economies in a Changing World

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It will fill a big need in college syllabi. With universities struggling to add courses on the political economy of the Middle East, this volume will prove to be a great resource Choice This book is very valuable and extremely timely for anyone who has an interest in this topic. It is well written and provides us with an analysis that is short, yet very thorough and comprehensive. There is an extensive presentation of data and indicators, covering issues ranging from productivity and income to happiness, demographics, foreign investment and political stability.

Journal of International Economics. About the Author Marcus Noland, executive vice president and director of studies, has been associated with the Institute since From through , he served as the Institute's deputy director. Lescribbler rated it really liked it Dec 14, Rani Daher rated it liked it Dec 22, William Frost rated it did not like it Jan 03, Randall Evans rated it liked it Dec 08, Humaira rated it really liked it May 22, Brian Harley rated it really liked it Jul 03, Jordan marked it as to-read Jun 24, Alex Melton marked it as to-read Jun 26, Electra Gerolymbou added it Oct 16, M marked it as to-read Mar 15, Ashraf Hamdy added it May 09, Amar Baines marked it as to-read Dec 01, Counterinsurgent marked it as to-read Jan 25, Maytham Abdulraheem marked it as to-read Oct 16, BookDB marked it as to-read Nov 11, JoJo Shanky added it Nov 26, Enzoppi added it Jan 31, Hikmet Kopar added it Sep 17, Hassan Sharif marked it as to-read Jul 20, Pseudoerasmus Econ History Only marked it as to-read Jul 27, As can be seen from figures 2.

This is not surprising given that much of the boom of the late s was due to investment in information technology both hardware and software and the telecommunication sectors.


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In some of the OECD countries such as the United States, the purchase of domestically produced hardware and software led to a rapid growth in aggregate demand while their adoption may have led to an acceleration of the rate of growth of potential supply. In contrast, the Arab countries had little ability to produce these goods or their components and thus did not benefit significantly from growing international demand for them. And they also had only modest ability to take advantage of the growth in income of potential trading partners, which led to an enormous increase in demand for all consumer and producer goods, not just those in information and communication technology.

Unlike India and the Philippines, nations that are considerably poorer than many of those considered here, there was meager success at even partly transforming the structure of production to take advantage of low-wage costs to export software and other services. Comparative data for a number of relevant countries are given in table 2.

From to growth in the Middle East was comparable to other developing areas, superior to many, consistently inferior only to the highperforming Asian countries.

In the s, performance in the Arab countries deteriorated, as it did in many other less developed countries. Note: Compound annual growth rates for the period. Data for Kuwait are for —70 and —89, and Tunisia are for — Index is no longer reported in the World Development Indicators. But the divergence widened during the s, when many Middle Eastern economies continued to have slow or negative growth while most other regions resumed or accelerated growth. There was some intragroup variation in all regions, but the poor performance in the Arab countries was largely, though not exclusively, due to the major oil producers.

This underlies our point that even in the worst decades, much of the bad international performance was concentrated in the oil producers, and the more diversified economies often performed similar to Latin America and typically better than Africa. Of course, judged by the standards of East Asia, even the better-performing Middle Eastern countries did weakly. Moreover, they did poorly relative to the heretofore weak, and arguably more comparable, economies of South Asia such as India and Bangladesh, two nations that considerably lagged the Arab countries in the —80 period but whose reforms facilitated improving performance in the s.

Investment and Growth Having examined the growth of per capita income in domestic prices in the previous section and noting the fact that many of the countries had fairly good performance for varying periods, we consider a particularly simple relation between GDP growth and investment to GDP ratio. In the next section we amplify the determinants of growth by including the impact of labor force and TFP.

Figures 2. These figures are a graphic representation of the ICORs discussed above. In the s most of the Arab countries exhibited either average or superior performance: They had better than average investment ratios and for a given investment ratio, GDP growth was equal or superior to that of other nations or regions, being close to or to the right of the regression Barry Bosworth and Susan Collins find that there is a low correlation between investment to GDP ratios and capital stock growth rates that have been calculated for individual countries using perpetual inventory.

The investment to GDP ratio is of interest as the underlying —90 capital stock series built up by Vikram Nehru and Ashok Dhareshwar and the to additions by Bosworth and Collins assume an identical depreciation rate across countries. In contrast, significant literature argues the lower cost of skilled labor in poorer countries militates in favor of longer life for capital.

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Different depreciation rates across countries, which may also vary over time, imply that the absence of a significant relation between investment to GDP ratios and the Nehru-Dhareshwar—Bosworth-Collins capital stock series is not surprising. Saudi Arabia in particular exhibited extraordinary performance, achieving 10 percent growth with a relatively low investment to GDP ratio. At the other extreme, even in a boom, Algeria had Soviet-style outcomes, very high investment not accompanied by spectacular growth.

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Though obviously per capita income growth differs from GDP growth, the simple relation suggests that the oil price boom decade was accompanied by reasonably successful deployment of considerable investment. However, the picture changed substantially in the — period. In the s many countries outside of East Asia experienced slower growth. Clearly, low investment was not the source of poor economic performance in this period. Most of the Arab countries lie above the regression line in the s, indicating lower gross average returns than those realized in other countries.

The weakening performance was partly due to a drop in TFP growth discussed in the next section but certainly cannot be attributed to declining investment rates though these played a minor role. At the same time some Arab countries such as Egypt and Tunisia achieved a growth rate greater than would be predicted from their investment ratio.


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The problems of the — period occur most clearly in several of the oil-rich countries. Algeria and Saudi Arabia invested 40 and 19 percent of GDP, respectively, yet realized very little growth. In Algeria there were sufficiently small returns so that per capita income was declining. Such low gross returns from investment are unusual though some Communist countries such as Cuba and North Korea have had similar experience.

Performance of Arab countries, excluding oil-rich ones, was not notably worse or better than other countries or regions. Other countries had either lower investment rates or lower gross returns. Although figures 2. Sources of Differences in Growth Rates In the previous section, we looked at the simple relation between the investment to GDP ratio and GDP growth rate to determine whether low investment has been the key issue for a large sample of countries.

In this section we examine TFP, which measures the growth in production after the growth of capital and labor inputs are taken into account. It is essentially a measure of growing efficiency of resource use. TFP estimates by Collins and Bosworth and Bosworth and Collins for a handful of Middle Eastern countries imply that over the —73 period i. The impression one gets is of countries that had done a reasonable job of mobilizing labor and capital, developed human capital from a low base, achieved a modicum of technological efficiency up until a turning point roughly a generation ago, and stagnated afterward.

One reason the preceding section focused on the investment-growth relationship is because it is difficult to measure both labor force and TFP. However, the labor force is subject to error, e. This difficulty is compounded when neither unemployment rates nor hours are available with any precision. And as is well known the measures of constant price capital contain a considerable degree of arbitrariness. Moreover, TFP is calculated as a residual from a posited aggregate production function relationship and hence specific estimates are dependent on the form of the assumed production function.

Thus, the TFP growth calculations for all nations need to be taken with caution. Bosworth and Collins present systematic estimates of TFP growth for a large number of countries, based on growth accounting. Of the countries of interest in this book, they undertake calculations for five—namely, Algeria, Egypt, Jordan, Morocco, and Tunisia. Data for Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, and Syria and others are not available. Their calculations for these and other countries and regions are graphically represented in figures 2.

Egypt and Tunisia and Morocco to a lesser extent have realized sustained growth output per worker and only a rare decade of declining TFP. In contrast, Algeria and Jordan experienced two decades of negative growth in output per worker. In Algeria both negative TFP growth and a declining capital intensity contributed to the downturn whereas in Jordan a decrease in capital intensity played some role, but the decline was due mainly to negative TFP growth rates. As seen in chapter 4, the rapid labor force growth of nations like Algeria will be a principal source of the problems facing many of the Arab nations.

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As shown in earlier studies for example, Easterly et al. Jordan was the leader in the s in both growth in per worker TFP estimates using growth accounting have a number of limitations compared with econometric estimates of production functions Nelson and Pack , Pack However, growth accounting estimates provide notional orders of magnitude and are unlikely to have systematic biases that would reverse the findings of econometric estimates.

In addition to the TFP growth rates assuming that growth in physical capital is the only other source of growth, Bosworth and Collins also calculate one that allows for human capital, but it is more problematic in our context as identical international elasticities of output with respect to human capital are employed to calculate its contribution to growth in output per worker. In the Arab countries the measure they employ, whether years of education or one using wage information, is widely viewed as a weak proxy for labor force quality due to the declining quality of education UNDP and Richards and Waterbury for detailed discussions.

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Thus, their narrower measure, which allows only for the growth of physical capital, is arguably more informative. As can be seen in the figures, the s witnessed much slower growth than the preceding decade. However, in much of the world there was a rebound in the s as various policies were improved and the United States and China grew rapidly, propelling a boom in the international economy despite the Asian crisis that affected a few countries from to Despite widespread views that Egypt and Tunisia are authoritarian and ossified economies, their TFP performance in the s was among the best in the entire group.

In the countries with low TFP growth, one contributory factor may have been the very high youth dependency ratio across the region during this period.


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  6. The argument is that large numbers of children depress aggregate household saving and, in the presence of international capital market imperfections, national saving. The result is less investment and thus lower capital-embodied technical change, which is not explicitly allowed for in the Bosworth-Collins calculations but instead is manifested as slower measured TFP growth.

    Yet this cannot be the whole story as Algeria with high investment had low TFP growth. Several observations stem from these graphs. The Arab economies were not very different from other countries or regions in the s, but there was a significant decline, particularly in TFP growth rates in the s and s.

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    In the s, the decline in the rate of growth of capital per worker was an important source of the slowdown in the growth of income per worker despite the still relatively high investment rate shown in figures 2. This reflected the rapid growth of the labor force in most countries. This trend, which is likely to continue, is particularly problematic, as seen in chapter 4.

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    Persistent slow TFP growth presents a substantial problem. If productivity growth could be accelerated, greater output growth could be obtained with a given deployment of resources. An acceleration of productivity growth also implies that a given level of growth of real income per capita could be achieved with lower investment-GDP ratios, resulting in less immediate dissatisfaction compared with one in which short-term consumption is compressed.

    Given the perception of widespread dissatisfaction with economic growth, the additional consumption would be intrinsically important to households and might increase the latitude of governments to pursue politically risky reforms. Finally, as shown in chapter 4, given the need to absorb substantial growth in the labor force in most countries, TFP growth could partly offset the negative effect on real income growth as large amounts of new investment are devoted to equipping new labor force members with sufficient capital so they can be productively absorbed.

    Falling behind was not preordained as demonstrated by the disparate experiences of other nations. On the other hand, Argentina, which in had an income per capita that was 63 percent of the US level, has fallen behind steadily since, despite being very well endowed with natural resources and possessing a highly educated population Maddison Too often analysts conclude, without sufficient attention to detail and with a paucity of international perspective, that in Arab countries it is solely the former, and nothing can be done.

    The same holds for the state-dominated economy of Algeria. Similarly, some of the experience of the transition economies of Eastern Europe is germane, though their experience offers some caution as discussed in chapter 7. But before that we examine how changes in incomes in the Arab countries have actually translated into changes in living standards in the region.

    The Arab Economies in a Changing World

    Increases in real per capita income may not diffuse to all members of the population. Income inequality could be large or growing, and health and education levels may deteriorate or improve slowly, leading to growing dissatisfaction despite the improving aggregate economic data. Thus, in this chapter we examine many social indicators. We find that most of the measures of welfare show a sustained improvement in the Arab countries. While it is possible to parse the indicators and find shortcomings in achievement in one area or another, the same is true for all nations—the overall picture indicates considerable improvement over time in social performance of the Arab countries and in their levels relative to other nations.