This paper  provides an assessment of economic growth, employment and poverty reduction in the Arab MENA region. Considering the high rate of unemployment (especially the youth unemployment) and poverty in most countries in the region employment and poverty impacts of growth are of particular concern to policy makers. In the short run for employment growth to be faster than output growth the employment elasticity of growth has to be greater than unity. This is an important condition that is rarely satisfied across all sectors and countries in the region, for good analytical and empirical reasons. For example growth in high productivity sectors will not boost total employment nor reduce poverty substantially in the short run, yet growth in high productivity sectors is essential for accumulation and long term growth. Moreover, if the poor were to benefit from an employment policy they should have been integrated in the sectors where jobs are created -- the so called integrability condition of the 'employment-poverty nexus'. Public work projects have been one of the main short term instruments of job creation for the poor in the region, but there the long term impact on poverty has varied and depended crucially on their sustainability, their contribution to improving local infrastructure and economies. These mixed results in no way invalidate the importance of economic growth for unemployment and poverty reduction, but brings into focus the importance of going beyond short term policies for job creation and poverty reduction as well as complementing such policies with social policies both for poverty alleviation and improving skill levels of the work force.

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International Institute of Social Studies of Erasmus University (ISS)
ISS Working Papers - General Series
ISS Working Paper Series / General Series
International Institute of Social Studies of Erasmus University (ISS)

Messkoub, M. (2008). Economic growth, employment and poverty in the Middle East and North Africa. ISS Working Paper Series / General Series (Vol. 460, pp. 1–34). Retrieved from