As a part of the Middle East and North Africa Region (MENA) Economic Monitor series, World Bank released a report entitled ‘Inequality, Uprisings, and Conflict in the Arab World’.
The report tries to explain the reasons behind the Arab Spring – recent uprisings, and conflict in the Arab World.
According to the report, there is a widespread inequality in the Arab society, despite the overall growth and development of the Arab nations as a whole. The report sees this fact as the possible answer to Arab Spring puzzle. It says that this inequality is what drove Arab people to the streets in the MENA though the region seems to have been making steady progress.
Judging by economic data alone, the revolutions of the 2011 Arab Spring should have never happened.
This is because, there are many evidences that show progress of Arab countries toward eliminating extreme poverty, boosting shared prosperity, increasing school enrollment, etc. in the decades prior to the Arab Spring.
Still, in late 2010 and early 2011, millions of people poured onto the streets of major cities in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA), calling for change.
Growing and broadly shared dissatisfaction with the quality of life were the main reasons for the uprisings. It was evident in perception data from value surveys but not in objective data.
Ordinary people, and especially those from the middle class, were frustrated by their deteriorating standards of living due to a lack of job opportunities in the formal sector, poor quality public services, and the lack of government accountability.
By 2010, people in the countries that became most involved in the Arab Spring — Syria, Libya, Tunisia, Egypt, and Yemen – were among the least happy in the world.
Dissatisfaction was widespread but more pronounced for the middle 40 percent of the population than the bottom 40 percent.
Further, the report says that the wealth disparities, which are typically higher than income disparities, could have been a factor in the Arab Spring uprisings that was not captured in standard economic data.