Was Insufficient Economic Growth a Critical Factor in Syria?

(Syria Comment) Ehsani - Countries like Egypt, Yemen and Syria need to engineer China-like economic growth rates in order to survive. Without such growth, their young populations will keep revolting for years to come. In the 25 years between 1980 and 2005, Yemen's total fertility (children per women) averaged 7.5. Iraq's was 5.7. Saudi Arabia, Syria, and Egypt averaged 5.4, 5.2, and 4.3 respectively. In contrast, the U.S. and Western Europe averaged 2.0 and 1.6. Over the same period, real economic growth in the Arab world was largely stagnant. When populations double every twenty-five years and real incomes stay constant, future revolutions are baked in the cake. With no vibrant industrial policy, insufficient energy and renewable water resources, an outmoded education system, and median house price-to-income ratios close to 10 (the U.S. is at 3), Arab countries are riding their Titanics straight into their respective icebergs. Yes, the Arab world could do with less corruption and more democracy and freedom, but none of this is likely to matter. Expect the Tahrir Square of every Arab capital to occupy our evening news for years to come. The writer is a Syrian-American banker.

2012-08-17 00:00:00

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