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Economic Indicators for the Arab Spring

Steve Hagen

Arab Spring Economic Content

                The Arab Spring is an uprising of demonstrations and protests in Tunisia, Algeria, Egypt, Yemen, Bahrain, Libya, and Syria, as well as a few other countries in the area that began late 2010.  This uprising has caused a lot of damage to many of these countries politically and economically.  I will examine the economic content involved in a few of these countries, particularly Egypt, Libya, and Syria throughout the uprising, and observe economic indicators to see how much of an impact the Arab Spring has had on these countries.

                While many lives have been lost during the violent Arab Spring, there have also been many economic losses as well.  Since the beginning of the demonstrations and protests, there have been over $51 billion in total costs for Egypt, Libya, and Syria (“Arab Spring Losses”).  Of this debt, approximately $18 billion were costs to GDP and around $33 were costs to public finance in these countries.  However, these numbers only illustrate part of the economic problems in Egypt, Libya, and Syria.  To truly understand the crisis in these Arab countries we must observe the following four economic indicators: unemployment rate, real personal income, retail sales, and industrial production.

                CIA – The World Factbook estimates the unemployment rate in Egypt to currently be 12.2%.  This is up approximately 3.2% from the estimated 9% unemployment rate just a year ago.  This shows the devastating effect that the Arab Spring has had on Egypt’s unemployment rate.  The same source also estimates the unemployment rate in Syria to be about 8.1%.  This is not a very big difference from the 8.3% unemployment rate in Syria from a year ago, so the Arab Spring has not had much of an impact on unemployment rate in Syria.  Compared to the previous two countries, Libya has a very high unemployment rate.  It is estimated to be about 30% (“Libya — Revolution and Aftermath”).  This high unemployment rate is clearly related to the economic problems that the Arab Spring has caused.

                While real personal income data may be tough to find for these countries, GDP per capita according to CIA – The World Factbook gives a good estimation of a person’s income per year.  In Egypt, it is estimated that the GDP per capita is $6,500 for 2011.  This is the same as the GDP per capita in Egypt for 2010.  Given a 13.3% inflation rate in Egypt in 2011 (CIA – The World Factbook), the fact that the GDP per capita stayed the same for this two year span shows that the Arab Spring hurt personal income in Egypt.  In Libya, the GDP per capita dropped from $14,100 in 2010 to $0 in 2011.  Due to the political effects of Muammar Gaddafi, his radical ideas and actions had a direct correlation with the GDP per capita in Libya.  In Syria, the GDP per capita decreased from $5,200 in 2010 to $5,100 in 2011.  Similar to Egypt, a 7% inflation rate makes this decrease seem much more severe. 

                The Arab Spring has hurt Egypt in terms of retail sales.  In the first two months of 2011, approximately $1 billion were lost in retail sales due to the Arab Spring (“Egypt Retail Report Q4 2011”).  BBC News suggests that Libya similarly had major losses in retail sales in 2011 due to the demonstrations and violence brought by the Arab Spring, majorly because of decreases in tourism (Smale).  BBC News also suggests that Syria had losses in retail sales.  This was in large part because of losses in tourism due to the protests going on in Syria.  This also hurt tourism in neighboring countries such as Lebanon (“Syrian Protests”).  

                Finally, the Arab Spring has had dramatic effects on industrial production in these three countries.  The industrial production growth rate is 5.7% in Egypt (CIA – The World Factbook).  This is relatively high compared to many other countries throughout the world.  Due to the Arab Spring, Syria has a low level of industrial productivity (state.gov).  Similar to Syria, Libya is also experiencing troubles with industrial growth due to the uprising of the Arab Spring.  These repressed results show a direct relationship between the Arab Spring and a decrease in industrial production in Syria and Libya.

                In conclusion, the Arab Spring has had many harsh effects and few positive effects on the nations involved in this uprising.  By use of the four provided economic indicators, we can reasonably justify the struggles in these countries, especially Egypt, Libya, and Syria. 



“Arab Spring Losses.” Zawya. Accessed February 16, 2012. Last modified October 16, 2011. http://www.zawya.com/story.cfm/sidZAWYA20111016064955/Arab_Spring_losses. Central Intelligence Agency. The World

                Factbook. Accessed February 16, 2012. Last modified December 30, 2011. https://www.cia.gov/index.html.

“Egypt Retail Report Q4 2011.” ResearchAndMarkets. Accessed February 16, 2012. Last modified October 2011. http://www.researchandmarkets.com/research/44e074/egypt_retail_repor.

“Libya — Revolution and Aftermath.” The New York Times. Accessed February 16, 2012. Last modified February 9, 2012. http://topics.nytimes.com/top/news/international/countriesandterritories/libya/index.html.

Smale, Will. “Arab Nations Aim to Win Back Tourists.” BBC News. Accessed February 16, 2012. Last modified November 9, 2011. http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-15651730.

“Syrian Protests Hit Lebanon Tourism.” BBC News. Accessed February 16, 2012. Last modified October 2, 2011. http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/15145225.

U.S. Department of State. Accessed February 16, 2012. Last modified February 2012. http://www.state.gov/.