Syria and Iraq probably cover most of today’s headlines about Middle Eastern development. But what about the other countries experiencing political change after the last four years of Arab Spring? Besides the reasonable hope for democratic opening: did the public movements lead to an improved economic perspective as well? Without a broad theoretical hypothesis, I quickly gathered the available information about GDP per capita growth between 2005 and 2014 of Algeria, Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Sudan, Tunisia and Yemen, compared to the OECD development and the overall performance of Arab countries.
Until 2010, general Arab economic development showed a rather big variance, starting from very promising performance (e.g. Jordan) to rather low performance (e.g. Algeria). Nevertheless, a common negative trend in growth rates can be observed. Therefore, the Arab Spring of 2011 shows no clear cutting point when it comes to ecenomic development – it’s rather the end of a longer story. Ironically until 2012, most Arab countries showed even increasing growth data again.
Finally in 2014, most countries settle down at a growth rate of 0.5 – 1.5% (annual) – regardless of a military government as in Egypt or a successful democratic turnover as in Tunisia. Only countries with a high political instability like Iraq or Sudan seem to experience a harder crack down. So whereas change in social and political institutions are obvious in many countries of the Arab Spring, economic development seems to follow a negative long-term trend. This seems obvious, because facors like high youth unemployment and corruption lead to dissatisfaction in these countries in the first place. The low but stable performance after 2011 in contrast is more surprising.