Friday 21 June 2024

MENA region falls behind in prosperity index

LONDON, March 5, 2023

Global “prosperity has plateaued for the third year running” as a result of weakening institutions and economies. This is particularly true for the MENA region, where primary weaknesses are institutional, says a new report. 
The region has seen rising terrorism and conflict, more repression on freedom of speech and association, and worsening political accountability and executive constraints. As a result, the region has fallen further behind the rest of the world, says the Legatum Institute’s 2023 Prosperity Index.
It has, however, seen some improvement in Education through better adult skills and pre-primary education, and Living Conditions due to better connectedness and protection from harm, as well as Market Access and Infrastructure.
Regional Highlights 
The region deteriorated most in Safety and Security, with Syria, Yemen, and Libya seeing greatest deteriorations. Additionally, MENA is the second last for Safety and Security globally. In the last decade, the region saw terrorism incidents more than double and two-sided conflict deaths rise from 9.2 to 52 deaths per million people. 
MENA also saw deteriorations in Personal Freedom, Governance and Social capital – in each of these pillars the region is last in the world. Turkey and Yemen both experienced greatest deteriorations in Personal Freedom, and Governance. Deteriorations in these pillars has led MENA’s prosperity to diverge with global average – it has fallen further behind the rest of the world. For example: 
o All but four countries saw a deterioration in freedom of assembly and association
o Conflict deaths rose from 8000 to 27000.
o Executive Constraints deteriorated in 12 out of 19 countries, and MENA is the worst region in the world on this element.
Similar to other regions, MENA saw greatest improvements in areas that are easy to get right with technology and investment, namely, Infrastructure and Market Access has improved the most, with Iraq, Egypt, and Iran ranking at the top for the improvement of this pillar. Education has also improved through better adult skills and pre-primary education. For example: 
o Secondary completion has risen from 71% to 77%
o 15-60 mortality has fallen from 127 to 104 deaths per 1000 people.
o The percentage of those with access to a bank account has risen from 39% to 52%.
The region is also weak economically, with:
o GDP per capita growth falling from 1.8% to 0.0% over 10 years
o The world’s highest youth unemployment rate, at 26.4%
o The lowest female labour force participation rate, at 24%
Country Highlights: 
Israel (33rd) is the most prosperous country in the MENA region. The country’s Investment Environment is a particular strength, ranking 15th globally, and making Israel a world leader in venture capital availability with $28,000 in venture capital invested per capita.
Globally, Denmark topped the overall prosperity list and Sweden came in second. Norway is third, Finland fourth and Switzerland fifth. 
Algeria’s (109th) prosperity has improved the most of any country in MENA in the previous decade, rising 6 places. 
Yemen (166th) is the least prosperous country in the MENA region and the second least prosperous in the world. The protracted conflict is hugely damaging to the struggling economy, threatening the government’s ability to sustain essential services. 
Regional rankings (global rank)
1. Israel (33rd); 2. United Arab Emirates (44th); 3. Qatar (46th); 4. Kuwait (60th); 5. Bahrain (62nd); 6. Oman (67th); 7. Saudi Arabia (79th); 8. Jordan (86th); 9. Turkey (95th); 10. Morocco (96th); 11. Tunisia (99th); 12. Algeria (109th); 13. Lebanon (112th); 14. Egypt (121st); 15. Iran (126th); 16. Iraq (140th); 17. Libya (146th); 18. Syria (159th) and 19. Yemen (166th).
Most promising trend: Basic needs in health, education and living conditions are being met more than ever.
For example: 
The percentage of people living on less than $5.50 a day has fallen globally from 57% to 47% globally and has halved in East Asia and the Pacific from 56% to 28%.
The percentage of children completing lower secondary school has risen from 74% to 80%. In Central and South Asia, it has risen from 68% to 79%.
The mortality rate for children under five has fallen from 37 deaths to 26 deaths per 1,000 children. In Sub-Saharan Africa it has fallen from 98 deaths to 71 deaths per 1,000 children
The most concerning trend: Many countries, including many fragile democracies, have deteriorating civil liberties
Executive Constraints have deteriorated in every region, other than Western Europe, and the level to which executive powers are effectively limited by the judiciary and legislature has decreased.
Over the last decade, Personal Freedoms have deteriorated in as many as 108 countries
Hong Kong has fallen from 47th for Personal Freedom to 98th over the decade.
In the element of political diversity and media perspectives, India has fallen from 3rd to 89th in the last 10 years.
On the other hand, social capital has been increasing around the world, with Eastern Europe improving the most in the last decade, from 41% to 74%.
Other concerning trends: 
While the world’s least prosperous countries are improving, they are not catching up with the rest of the world.
For example:
In 6 out of 12 pillars of the Prosperity Index, the bottom 40 countries have deteriorated, while, on average, the rest of the world has improved. While the group saw improvement in some areas, the progress was not fast enough to catch up to the rest of the world.
Two-sided conflicts deaths rise from 23,000 to 86,000.
GDP per capita growth fall from 2.0% to -0.1%.
The scope of their trade deals increased from 8% to only 12% of the global economy (while the top 40 have increased their trade deal access to foreign markets for goods from 31% of the global economy to 45%).
There are long term weaknesses in the global economy, including declining productivity and rising unemployment
For example:
There has been a long-term slowdown in productivity around the world, and, apart from in Asia, the countries at the bottom of the Index have not caught up with the rest of the world in productivity. 
While extensive trade deals allowed prosperous nations to gain access to almost half of the world’s markets, the bottom 40 countries have access to less than a third as much.
In Sub-Saharan Africa today, the average worker produces goods and services worth $11,700 - just $600 more than 10 years ago. 
In Latin America and the Caribbean, the average worker produces less than they did 10 years ago.
Over 10 years, every region has seen an increasing government debt that has risen from 52% to 76% on average.
Youth unemployment has risen across the world and stands at 24% in Central and South Asia, 22% in Latin America, and 26% in MENA.
Now in its 16th year, the Index measures the prosperity in 167 countries representing over 99% of the world’s population. - TradeArabia News Service


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