The New Palgrave Dictionary of Economics

2018 Edition
| Editors: Macmillan Publishers Ltd

Labour Markets in the Arab World

  • Ragui Assaad
Reference work entry


This article reviews the various arguments that have been advanced to explain the defining features of Arab labour markets, which can be summarised as: high youth unemployment, especially among young women and educated youth; oversized public sectors and small and anaemic formal private sectors; rapidly growing but highly distorted and low-quality educational attainment; and low (and stagnant) female labour force participation. While acknowledging the validity of most of these arguments, I argue that these defining features are attributable in large part to the specific nature of the region’s political economy, and, in particular, to the legacy of the so-called ‘authoritarian bargain’ social contracts that have characterised state–society relations in the post-colonial era.


Arab labour markets Authoritarian bargain Female labour force participation Human capital Labour market segmentation Social contracts Unemployment 

JEL Classifications

I25 J21 J24 J31 J45 O53 P52 
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Copyright information

© Macmillan Publishers Ltd. 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Ragui Assaad
    • 1
  1. 1.