Topics in Middle Eastern and North African Economies

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During the last few decades, a convolute of economic literature has emerged which focuses on the effects of demography, in particular the existence of so-called “youth bulges”, on economic growth and performance (for an overview see e.g. Bloom et al. 2001). The approach in our paper extends previous research to include potentially negative growth effects of a large share of young people in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) not only via the “channel” of unemployment, but also through their potential as a “trigger” for political unrest and domestic terrorism, which have been identified in economic literature as important obstacles to economic growth. These phenomena are most pressing in the laborrich countries of the region, which are often perceived as being exceptionally “terrorismprone” and which have experienced a significant share of the region’s (and the world’s) terrorist attacks over the last decade. In our paper, we will identify, theoretically and empirically, to what extent demographic factors, amongst others, matter when it comes to domestic terrorism. We will also provide some insights as to how these problems are caused, or at least substantially compounded by, the region’s specific traits, such as the poor institutional framework and the lack of migration opportunities. After a theoretical outline of the negative relationship between “youth bulges” and economic development, and an outline of the role of migration as an “exit-option” in this context, we provide empirical evidence for our hypothesis that institutional quality, the absence of “youth bulges” and the existence of migration opportunities is of pivotal importance in avoiding terrorist attacks. As some of these factors – namely institutional quality and migration policies – are amendable to change through policy measures, we close our paper with policy recommendations for measures to be taken within the ongoing transformation process in the region.



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Topics in Middle Eastern and North African Economies




Middle East Economic Association and Loyola University Chicago




Presentation of the articles in the Topics in Middle Eastern and North African Economies was made possible by a limited license granted to Loyola University Chicago and Middle East Economics Association from the authors who have retained all copyrights in the articles.

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