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Labor and Social Protection

Can North Africa leapfrog together in work and welfare?

Heba Elgazzar's picture
Also available in: العربية | Français
Dana Smilie

It was December 8, 2010, when I boarded a plane after a routine trip to Tunisia.  There was nothing out of the ordinary that would have provided a clue as to the dramatic upheaval to come.   The taxi drivers rarely spoke of politics, poverty was an untouchable topic of conversation, and YouTube was blocked.  However, over the course of that winter, uprisings erupted throughout Tunisia, Libya, Egypt and beyond that called for greater social justice.  Investment policies had privileged elites for too long. Social and labor policies had not been that effective at promoting inclusiveness.   Each country has since struggled to maintain political stability while addressing demands for improving work and welfare, with mixed results. 

The impact of Libyan middle-class refugees in Tunisia

Omer Karasapan's picture
Also available in: العربية | Français
Libyan Flag

The Arab world is in the midst of one of the largest human displacements in modern history, with 14-15 million refugees and internally displaced people (IDPs). This number includes over 10 million Syrians that are now refugees abroad or IDPs, nearly 2 million Iraqi IDPs, and hundreds of thousands of Iraqi refugees most of whom fled to Syria. There are 2 million Libyans abroad, mostly in Tunisia, and 400,000 IDPs within the country. The region is also prone to sudden population movements such as the hurried return of hundreds of thousands of Egyptians from Libya, first when fighting intensified over the summer and then following the barbaric beheading of 21 Egyptians. 

This blog originally appeared in Future Development.

Can teachers unions help improve the quality of education in the Arab world?

Kamel Braham's picture
Also available in: العربية | Français


In many countries in the Middle East and North Africa, and in fact around the world, teachers—who play a pivotal role in any effort to improve education quality—have not been officially represented in the design of key government programs aimed at education reform.

Where Will the Jobs Come from in the Middle East and North Africa? (Hint: You need start-ups)

Marc Schiffbauer's picture
Also available in: العربية | Français


A former hotel owner in one of the region’s major cities, who wants to remain anonymous, tells a story that should have had a happy ending. Her 40-room hotel was doing well. It had built a reputation for excellent service. She decided to capitalize on her success and expand the business by adding a restaurant. This would have provided her with another revenue steam and allowed her to attract more customers, especially foreign tourists. Apart from expanding her business, the need for new kitchen and wait staff would have meant jobs for the local community. It would also have meant more business for local suppliers of everything from food to tablecloths.

With such a long list of potential benefits, who would want to stand in the way?

Unemployment May Lead to a New Youth Bulge in Egypt

Jacob Goldston's picture
Also available in: العربية | Français
 James Martone l World Bank

After dropping for many years, there has been a recent resurgence of fertility rates in Egypt. A woman born in the 1960s gave birth to an average of 1.4 children by the time she turned 25. Then there came a sharp drop, bottoming out at near 1.1 for women born in the late 1970s. But since then, fertility rates have bounced back, up to an average of 1.2 for women born in the mid to late 1990s.

What Smart(er) Politicians Do With Subsidies: Jobs

Heba Elgazzar's picture
Also available in: Français | العربية


What makes smart politicians?  Jeffrey Frankel has an idea.   His recent blog examines the allure, and trap, of universal subsidies.   For one thing, they know that pulling the plug on bad policies should be done sooner rather than later.  The same can be said of other policies related to investment and labor legislation.  Economic democracy is a great thing.  However, beware of misguided routes to achieving it. 

“Libya’s 52 Percent”

Heba Elgazzar's picture
Also available in: Français | العربية
 Heba Elgazar

In Libya right now, one out of every two people is 24 years old or younger (52 percent). 

One out of every two fighters was previously unemployed or a student (52 percent). 

Why does this matter? 

Since my last trip to Tripoli in April, the unfolding conflict has brought these numbers to life.  At the time, opportunities were emerging, which I’ll return to in a bit.  The current conflict notwithstanding, it was clear at the time that Libya has immense potential due to its natural resources and unique geography. 

Young Egyptians still Waiting for Economic Opportunities

Raghada Abdel Hamed's picture
Also available in: العربية | Français
 World Bank l Kim Eun Yeul

Education and employment are key problems for young people in Egypt, who say they need to see changes—in terms of more jobs and better education—in the present, not in the distant “future”, the word they always hear used in promises of change in Egypt.

Employment and Fertility in the Middle East and North Africa: Mothers to the Rescue?

Farrukh Iqbal's picture
Also available in: العربية | Français
 Arne Hoel

New entrants to the working age population in most Middle East and North Africa countries encounter economic structures and policies that have long failed to generate an adequate number of new jobs. In recent years, about 5 million people per year have reached working age but only 3 million of them have found jobs. Unfortunately, ongoing political turmoil and associated economic conditions and policies suggest that the jobs challenge will continue to fester for years to come.  However, help may be on the way from a “curiously unnoticed” source: falling fertility rates.   

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