"Unemployment in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region is currently at a historical high, which may appear puzzling given economic growth in the region. The authors of this conference paper stress the need to look at labour market developments, demographic changes and macro policy frameworks in the region to understand the underlying causes of these high levels of unemployment.
The paper uses a sample of five Arab countries (namely Algeria, Egypt, Jordan, Morocco and Tunisia) in a dataset that covers the period from 1990 to 2006.
The study's observations and policy recommendations include:
- Despite healthy economic growth, unemployment has not decreased. Recommendation: enabling an environment where growth is more predictable through state development of a macro policy framework which allows financial markets to function independently albeit within a credible regulatory framework
- The labour market appears to strongly discriminate against women's skills. Recommendation: the mismatch between women's schooling and job skills (especially where these relate to the private sector) needs to be addressed.
- The continuous rise in life expectancy is likely to have serious labour market implications, particularly for men. Recommendation: faster and stable labour-intensive growth strategy which encourages small enterprise growth and diversifies the product base of the economy
- The high trade-GDP ratio has had little impact on growth, employment and educational attainment.
Recommendation: engage with globalisation and search for comparative advantages and/or hindrances."