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Factors hindering economic development: evidence from the MENA countries

Ali Awdeh (Faculty of Economics and Business Administration, Universite Libanaise, Beirut, Lebanon)
Hassan Hamadi (Faculty of Business Administration and Economics, Notre Dame University – Louaize, Zouk Mosbeh, Lebanon)

International Journal of Emerging Markets

ISSN: 1746-8809

Article publication date: 5 December 2018

Issue publication date: 19 March 2019




Despite the possession of considerable natural, financial and human resources, the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region suffers low economic growth rates, high unemployment rates, high poverty rates and high illiteracy rates. The purpose of this paper is to find out the factors that hinder the development of economic activities in this region.


This study uses co-integration analysis and vector error correction model on a sample of 18 MENA countries, covering the period 2002–2016. It exploits gross domestic product (GDP) as a dependent variable, and public debt, trade balance, natural resources rents, importation of high technology, labour participation rate, military spending, population size, political instability and corruption as independent variables.


The paper finds that public borrowing, trade deficit, military expenditures, the low level of technological innovation, population, political turbulences and corruption, all hinder GDP in the long-run. Additionally, public debt, military spending and political instability obstruct GDP in the short run. The results also suggest the existence of Dutch diseases in both the short- and the long-run. On the other hand, labour market conditions do not seem to have any effect on the economic performance of the MENA countries.


In addition of examining an understudied sample of countries, this paper – unlike other studies on the MENA region that look at factors that boost economic growth – exploits factors that have possible negative impact on the economic situation of the region.



Awdeh, A. and Hamadi, H. (2019), "Factors hindering economic development: evidence from the MENA countries", International Journal of Emerging Markets, Vol. 14 No. 2, pp. 281-299.



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