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Fire in Cairo: Authoritarian-redistributive social contracts, structural change and the Arab spring

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  • Eric ROUGIER

Abstract

In this paper, we argue that the Arab spring can be understood as a violent criticism of and attack against the post-Independence social contract that prevailed in most Middle East and North African countries. We show that this social contract, characterized by the combination of high levels of redistribution and low political accountability and social inclusiveness may well explain (1) the slow pace of structural change relative to the rest of the world and (2) the specific political economy that have triggered social discontent among the young, and broad cohorts of educated workers, and eventually thrown populations onto the streets. More specifically, it is shown that authoritarianism reduces the positive effect of redistribution on structural change, with this adverse effect being even larger when the likely endogeneity of the social contract to the export structure is controlled for. We also describe the specific political economy that was conducive to the low democracy-low diversification equilibrium featured by most Arab economies.

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  • Eric ROUGIER, 2014. "Fire in Cairo: Authoritarian-redistributive social contracts, structural change and the Arab spring," Cahiers du GREThA (2007-2019) 2014-22, Groupe de Recherche en Economie Théorique et Appliquée (GREThA).
  • Handle: RePEc:grt:wpegrt:2014-22
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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Social contract; redistribution; authoritarianism; structural change; export diversification; export sophistication; political economy; Middle East and North Africa; inequality of opportunities;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • I38 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Welfare, Well-Being, and Poverty - - - Government Programs; Provision and Effects of Welfare Programs
    • O14 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Industrialization; Manufacturing and Service Industries; Choice of Technology
    • O43 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Growth and Aggregate Productivity - - - Institutions and Growth
    • P16 - Political Economy and Comparative Economic Systems - - Capitalist Economies - - - Capitalist Institutions; Welfare State
    • P48 - Political Economy and Comparative Economic Systems - - Other Economic Systems - - - Legal Institutions; Property Rights; Natural Resources; Energy; Environment; Regional Studies

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