Jump to ContentJump to Main Navigation
Show Summary Details
More options …

Review of Middle East Economics and Finance

Ed. by Dibeh, Ghassan / Assaf, Ata / Cobham, David / Hakimian, Hassan / Henry, Clement M.

See all formats and pricing
More options …
Volume 10, Issue 3

Economic Policies, Structural Change and the Roots of the “Arab Spring” in Egypt

Hannah Bargawi
Published Online: 2014-11-27 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/rmeef-2014-0034


This paper analyses the economic challenges facing Egypt in the post-Mubarak period, demonstrating the ways in which economic policy choices over the 2000s have contributed to the economic and social outcomes witnessed in the run up to the 2011 uprisings. The article investigates three specific policy areas and demonstrates their role in reducing employment opportunities, eroding wages and facilitating the creation of an increasingly unequal economic and social structure in Egypt. The three policy areas addressed by the article are (i) the general misplaced fiscal focus on expenditure-reduction rather than revenue-enhancement and the lack of progressive revenue growth; (ii) the manipulation and use of subsidies in Egypt to appease the populous instead of fostering employment generation; (iii) the failure to adequately promote employment-intensive investment.

Keywords: Egypt; uprising; economic policies; growth; employment


  • Abdallah, S. K. 2012. Macroeconomic Challenges in Egypt after Revolution: Do Islamic Parties Have a Vision? Emerging New Economic Policy Makers in the Arab Mediterranean: Economic Agendas of Islamic Actors Conference. European Institute of the Mediterranean. Barcelona, Spain. 3rd–4th July 2012.Google Scholar

  • Abdel-Baki, M. A. 2012. “Coalitions Within the Egyptian Banking Sector: Catalysts of the Popular Revolution.” Business and Politics 14(1):1–26.CrossrefGoogle Scholar

  • Achcar, G. 2013. The People Want: A Radical Exploration of the Arab Uprising. London: Saqi.Google Scholar

  • Ahmed, M., D. Furceri, and D. Guillaume. 2012. “Youth Unemployment in the MENA Region: Determinants and Challenges.” In Addressing the 100 Million Youth Challenge—Perspectives on Youth Employment in the Arab World, edited by M. Dusek and M. Miller. pp. 8–12. Geneva: World Economic Forum.Google Scholar

  • Angel-Urdinola, D., and A. Semlali. 2010. Labor Markets and School-to-Work Transition in Egypt: Diagnostics, Constraints, and Policy Framework. Washington, DC: World Bank.Google Scholar

  • Aran, M., and L. Ersado. 2013. “Inequality of Opportunity in Access to Basic Services among Egyptian Children”. Development Analytics Research Paper Series #1304. Istanbul, Development Analytics Research Paper Series #1304.Google Scholar

  • Assaad, R. 2007. Labor Supply, Employment and Unemployment in the Egyptian Economy, 1988-2006. Working Paper No. 0701. Cairo: Economic Research Forum.Google Scholar

  • Assaad, R., ed. 2009. Egypt’s Labour Market Revisited. Cairo: The American University in Cairo Press.Google Scholar

  • Assaad, R., C. Kraft, N. B. Hassine, and D. Salehi-Isfahani. 2012. “Inequality of Opportunity in Child Health in the Arab World and Turkey.” Middle East Development Journal 4(2):3–40.CrossrefGoogle Scholar

  • Biygautane, M. 2011. “The Political Economy of Privatization in the Maghreb Region: How Domestic and External Factors have Shaped the process and Outcome.” Dubai School of Government Working Paper No. 11–05.Google Scholar

  • Dobronogov, A., and F. Iqbal. 2005. “Economic Growth in Egypt: Constraints and Determinants.” World Bank Middle East and North Africa Working Paper No. 42.Google Scholar

  • El-Laithy, H. 2012. “Inequality in the Southern Mediterranean: A Survey of Selected Countries.” C. f. E. P. Studies. Brussels, MEDPRO Technical Report No. 23.Google Scholar

  • El-Meehy, A. 2009. “Rewriting the Social Contract: The Social Fund and Egypt’s Politics of Retrenchment.” Graduate Department of Political Science. Toronto, University of Toronto, Canada. PhD.Google Scholar

  • Esam-Fayed, M. 2013. “Crowding Out Effect of Public Borrowing: The Case of Egypt.” International Research Journal of Finance and Economics 107:28–38 (March 2013).Google Scholar

  • FAO. 2013. Food Price Index 2013. Rome: Food and Agriculture Association. http://www.fao.org/worldfoodsituation/foodpricesindex/en/ (accessed January,23 2014).

  • Fawzy, S. 2002. “Investment Policies and Unemployment Problem in Egypt.” ECES Working Paper No. 68.Google Scholar

  • Gutner, T. 1999. The Political Economy of Food Subsidy Reform in Egypt. IFPRI FCND Discussion Papers. Rome: IFPRI.Google Scholar

  • Gutner, T. 2002. “The Political Economy of Food Subsidy Reform in Egypt”, Food Policy 27(5–6):455–476.CrossrefGoogle Scholar

  • Hanieh, A. 2011. “Beyond Mubarak: Reframing the “Politics” and “Economics” of Egypt’s Uprising.” Studies in Political Economy 87:7–27 (Spring 2011).Google Scholar

  • Harik, L. and Sullivan, D., eds. 1992. Privatisation and Liberalisation in the Middle East. Bloomington, IN: Indiana University Press.Google Scholar

  • Harrigan, J. 2012. Did Food Prices Plant the Seeds of the Arab Spring? Inaugural Lecture. SOAS, University of London.Google Scholar

  • Herrera, S., C. Hurlin, et al. 2013. “Why Don’t Banks Lend to Egypt’s Private Sector?” Economic Modelling 33:347–56.CrossrefGoogle Scholar

  • Hussein, M. 2012. Egypt Opens Door for Private Sector Investment in Infrastructure. Ahram Online. Cairo: Al-Ahram Establishment.Google Scholar

  • International Labour Organization. 2013. Laborsta Database, International Labour Organization.Google Scholar

  • International Monetary Fund. 2005a. Arab Republic of Egypt: 2005 Article IV Consultation. Washington, DC: IMF.Google Scholar

  • International Monetary Fund. 2005b. Dealing with the Revenue Consequences of Trade Reform. IMF Fiscal Affairs Department, February 2005. Washington, DC: IMF.Google Scholar

  • International Monetary Fund. 2006. Arab Republic of Egypt: 2006 Article IV Consultation. IMF Country Report No. 06/253. Washington, DC: IMF.Google Scholar

  • International Monetary Fund. 2010. Arab Republic of Egypt: 2010 Article IV Consultation. IMF Country Report No. 10/94. Washington, DC: IMF.Google Scholar

  • International Monetary Fund. 2011. Revenue Mobilization in Developing Countries. Washington, DC: IMF.Google Scholar

  • International Monetary Fund. 2013. Government Finance Statistics. Washington, DC: IMF.Google Scholar

  • Joya, A. 2011. “Egyptian Protests: Falling Wages, High Prices and the Failure of an Export-Oriented Economy.” In The Arab Revolts Against Neoliberalism, edited by A. Joya, P. Bond, R. El-Amine, A. Hanieh, and M. Henaway, 4–11. London: Centre for Social Justice.Google Scholar

  • Kandil, M. 2011. “Monetary Policy in Egypt: Recent Challenges and Future Priorities.” ECES Policy Viewpoint, Publication Number: ECES-PVP28-E/A (July 2011) (28).Google Scholar

  • Karshenas, M., and R. Alami. 2011. Arab Spring and Social Policy. Paper prepared for ESCWA Beirut, October 2011. Beirut: United Nation’s Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia (ESCWA).Google Scholar

  • Karshenas, M., and R. Alami. 2012. “Deficient Social Policies Have Helped Spark the Arab Spring.” CDPR Development Viewpoint number 70.Google Scholar

  • Khattab, M. 1999. “Privatization in Egypt: Constraints and Resolutions.” In Partners for Development: New Roles for the Government and Private Sector in Middle East and North Africa, edited by S. Fawzy and A. Galal. Washington, DC: The World Bank.Google Scholar

  • Kienle, E. 2004. “Reconciling Privilege and Reform: Fiscal Policy in Egypt: 1991–2000.” In Networks of Privilege in the Middle East: The Politics of Economic Reform Revisited, edited by S. Heydemann, pp. 281–295. New York: Palgrave Macmillan.Google Scholar

  • Kienle, E. 2013. “After Authoritarianism: Economic and Social Policies in Tunisia and Egypt.” Paper presented at Workshop and Policy Seminar on the Political Economy of Transformation in the ERF Region, October 27–28 2013, Tunis, Tunisia. Cairo: ERF.Google Scholar

  • Klau, A. 2010. Impact of the Economic Crisis on Trade, Foreign Investment, and Employment in Egypt. Cairo: ILO.Google Scholar

  • Korshid, M., A. Kamaly, et al. 2011. Assessing Development Strategies to Achieve the MDGs in The Arab Republic of Egypt, Country Study. New York: UNDESA, March 2011.PubMedGoogle Scholar

  • Lagi, M., K. Z. Bertrand, et al. 2011. “The Food Crises and Political Instability in North Africa and the Middle East.” New England Complex Systems Institute Working Paper.Google Scholar

  • Ministry of Economic Development, E. 2008. Egypt: Achieving the Millennium Development Goals a MidPoint Assessment. Cairo: Ministry of State for Economic Development.Google Scholar

  • Mohieddin, M. 2010. “Social Policies and Poverty in Egypt.” UNDP Background Paper. Cairo.Google Scholar

  • Moore, P. W. 2012. The Arab 99 Percent: Understanding political economies of the 2011 uprisings. 2012 Annual Meeting of the American Political Science Association, August 30-September 2, 2012.Google Scholar

  • Nashashibi, K. A. 2002. Fiscal Revenues in South Mediterranean Arab Countries: Vulnerabilities and Growth Potential. IMF Working Paper WP/02/67. Washington, DC: IMF.Google Scholar

  • Norregaard, J., and T. S. Khan. 2007. “Tax Policy: Recent Trends and Coming Challenges” IMF Working Paper WP/07/274.Google Scholar

  • Oxford Business Group. 2013. The Report: Egypt 2012: Country Profile. Cairo: Oxford Business Group.Google Scholar

  • Pessino, C., and R. Fenochietto. 2012. “Determining Countries’ Tax Effort.” Hacienda Publica Española/Revista De Economía 195(4):65–87.Google Scholar

  • Ramadan, R., and A. Thomas. 2011. “The Impacts of the Rising Food Prices on the Egyptian Household’s Welfare.” Food Policy 36(5):638–46.CrossrefGoogle Scholar

  • Refaat, A. 2000. “Egypt: An Assessment of Recent Trade Policy Developments” in Hoekman.” In Trade Policy Developments in the Middle East and North Africa, edited by H. Bernard and H. Kheir-el Din, pp. 113–140. Washington, DC: World Bank.Google Scholar

  • Sabry, S. 2009. Poverty Lines in Greater Cairo: Underestimating and Misrepresenting Poverty. Working Paper 21, Poverty Reduction in Urban Areas Series. London: International Institute for Environment and Development.Google Scholar

  • The Arab Republic of Egypt. 2011. Egypt Investment Monitor, June 2011. Ministry of Investment. Cairo: The Arab Republic of Egypt.Google Scholar

  • The Arab Republic of Egypt. 2012. Recent Developments in Egyptian Economy, March 2012. General Authority for Investment. Cairo: General Authority for Investment.Google Scholar

  • The Arab Republic of Egypt (2013). Monthly Report, August 2013. Cairo: General Authority for Investment.Google Scholar

  • UN Habitat. 2011. Cairo: A City in Transition. Cairo: The American University in Cairo.Google Scholar

  • UNCTAD. 2006. Trade and Development Report 2006. New York and Geneva: UNCTAD.Google Scholar

  • UNDP. 2005. Macroeconomic Policies for Poverty Reduction in Syria. New York: UNDP.Google Scholar

  • Verme, P. 2013. Facts vs. Perceptions: understanding inequality in Egypt. In Voices and Views: Middle East and North Africa, edited by P. Verme, B. Milanovic, S. Al-Shawarby, S. El Tawila, M. Gadallah, and E. A. El-Majeed, pp. 55–100. Washington, DC: World Bank.Google Scholar

  • World Bank and Ministry of Economic Development Arab Republic of Egypt. 2007. Arab Republic of Egypt: Poverty Assessment Update. Washington, DC: World Bank.Google Scholar

  • World Bank and Ministry of Economic Development Arab Republic of Egypt. 2009. Economic Growth, Inequality and Poverty: Social Mobility in Egypt between 2005 and 2008. Washington, DC: World Bank.Google Scholar

  • World Bank. 2005. Egypt: Country Assistance Strategy 2006–2009. World Bank Country Document Report No. 32190-EG. Washington, DC: World Bank.Google Scholar

  • World Bank. 2007. Job Generation and Growth Decomposition Tool: Understanding the Sectoral Pattern of Growth and its Employment and Productivity Intensity. Reference Manual and User’s Guide. Version 1.0, Washington, DC: World Bank.Google Scholar

  • World Bank. 2009. Upper Egypt: Pathways to Shared Growth. Washington, DC: World Bank.Google Scholar

  • World Bank. 2010. Doing Business 2009. Washington, DC: World Bank.Google Scholar

  • World Bank. 2013. World Development Indicators. Washington, DC: World Bank.Google Scholar

  • World Bank and Ministry of Finance, Arab Republic of Egypt. 2009. Egypt and the Global Economic Crisis: A Preliminary Assessment of Macroeconomic Impact and Response. Washington, DC: World Bank.Google Scholar

  • Zolt, E., and R. Bird. 2005. “Redistribution via Taxation: The Limited Role of the Personal Income Tax in Developing Countries.” International Center for Public Policy Working Paper Series 0507.Google Scholar

About the article

Published Online: 2014-11-27

Published in Print: 2014-12-01

Citation Information: Review of Middle East Economics and Finance, Volume 10, Issue 3, Pages 219–246, ISSN (Online) 1475-3693, ISSN (Print) 1475-3685, DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/rmeef-2014-0034.

Export Citation

©2014 by De Gruyter.Get Permission

Comments (0)

Please log in or register to comment.
Log in