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Constraints to Economic Development and Growth in the Middle East and North Africa

  • Juliane Brach


    (GIGA Institute of Middle East Studies)

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    When comparing the speed and extent of economic development in different geographic regions of the world over the past 20 years, the under-average performance of Arab countries in general and Arab Mediterranean countries in particular is striking. This is despite an overall favorable geo-strategic situation at the crossroads of three continents, with excellent connections to sea and waterways and in direct proximity to the European Union, one of the world’s economic hubs. It is also despite the minor importance of negative factors such as a high-burden diseases or high levels of ethnic fractionalization. In this paper, I focus on identifying the most important constraints on Arab Mediterranean economic development. I use state-of-the-art econometric tools to quantify constraints that have been identified through economic theory and studies of the political economy characteristics of the region. The empirical results offer support for the central hypothesis that limited technological capacities and political economy structures are the primary constraints on economic development. With a view to international structural adjustment efforts, my findings imply that the limited success of the Euro-Mediterranean policy to stimulate the economic development of the Arab Mediterranean countries might be because structural adjustment efforts do not tackle—or at least do not sufficiently tackle— these constraints.

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    Paper provided by GIGA German Institute of Global and Area Studies in its series GIGA Working Paper Series with number 85.

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    Length: 45 pages
    Date of creation: Sep 2008
    Date of revision:
    Handle: RePEc:gig:wpaper:85
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