The Population Threat

  • Mohammed Akacem
  • Dennis Dixon Miller
  • John Leonard Faulkner


Most MENA nations suffer from a population growth rate that is higher than most of the rest of the world. The region has the largest percentage of unemployed youth than anywhere in the world. The high rate of unemployment among the youth led to dissatisfaction that was a contributor to the Arab Spring and the resulting political upheavals that led to the toppling of governments in three countries, Libya, Tunisia, and Egypt.

Limited arable land and water result in MENA’s dependence on food imports. Reliance on oil exports to pay for food imports is risky. Thus, MENA has an incentive to push for policies to diversify the region’s economies. Achieving such a goal is not possible without first improving the institutional environment with the rule of law and the protection of human and property rights. Without this, MENA is not likely to attract foreign direct investment that could help to absorb a segment of the large unemployed youth.

In summary, with a high population growth and limited water and arable land, foreign exchange is needed to import food. Since oil revenues cannot be relied upon, MENA’s economies need to diversify away from oil-export dependency and to attract foreign direct investment. Doing this requires welcoming business environments and better institutions. Such institutions and increased employment of women could help curb population growth.


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2020

Authors and Affiliations

  • Mohammed Akacem
    • 1
  • Dennis Dixon Miller
    • 2
  • John Leonard Faulkner
    • 3
  1. 1.Department of Economics Campus Box 77Metropolitan State University of DenverDenverUSA
  2. 2.Baldwin Wallace UniversityBereaUSA
  3. 3.ArlingtonUSA

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