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What is the Social Contract and why does the Arab World Need a New One?

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Nov 16, 2015 / 0 Comments
   

The ‘social contract’ is an idea that dates back to the ancient Greeks, and refers to the implicit agreement among members of a society that defines their relationship with each other and the state. That relationship holds the key to unravelling the puzzle of the ‘Arab Spring.’

 
To development economists (like myself), the uprisings that started in Tunisia and spread to several countries in the Arab world in 2010-11 came as somewhat of a surprise.  For the previous decade, almost all the indicators of economic well-being were strong and improving.   GDP growth was substantial, at about 5 percent a year.  Extreme poverty (people living on $1.25 a day) was low and declining.  Conventional measures of inequality, such as the Gini coefficient, were lower than in other middle-income countries, and in some cases declining.  In Egypt and Tunisia, the per-capita income of the bottom 40 percent was growing faster than the average.  In terms of human development, the Middle East and North Africa region recorded the fastest decline in child mortality rates and the steepest increase in school attainment.
 
 

Continue reading the article on World Bank MENA blog here.

Shanta Devarajan

Shantayanan Devarajan is the Chief Economist of the World Bank’s Middle East and North Africa Region.  Since joining the World Bank in 1991, he has been a Principal Economist and Research Manager for Public Economics in the Development Research Group, and the Chief Economist of the Human Development Network, South Asia, and Africa Region. He was the director of the World Development Report 2004, Making Services Work for Poor People. Before 1991, he was on the faculty of Harvard University’s John F. Kennedy School of Government.

 

The author or co-author of over 100 publications, Mr. Devarajan’s research covers public economics, trade policy, natural resources and the environment, and general equilibrium modeling of developing countries. Born in Sri Lanka, Mr. Devarajan received his B.A. in mathematics from Princeton University and his Ph.D. in economics from the University of California, Berkeley.

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