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Achcar, Gilbert (2020) 'On the ‘Arab Inequality Puzzle': The Case of Egypt.' Development and Change, 51 (3). pp. 746-770.

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Abstract

This article surveys and discusses prominent protagonists of the debate on socio‐economic inequality in the Arab region, with a special focus on the World Bank and Egypt. According to official data, the region holds remarkably low Gini coefficients in a context of declining inequality. This contradicts the popular perception of high social inequality as a major cause of regional protests since the Arab Spring; hence the reference to a ‘puzzle’ in mainstream literature. The debate about the reality of social inequality in the region has developed since 2011 — particularly in regard to Egypt, where income and consumption data are periodically collected by means of household surveys. Inequality measures based on this method alone, while income taxation data are inaccessible, are highly questionable and conflict with various observations and calculations based on other indicators such as national accounts, executive income or house prices. Yet, the World Bank upholds official inequality findings in portraying the Arab upheaval as the revolt of a ‘middle class’ that aspires to greater business freedom, in consonance with the neoliberal worldview.

Item Type: Journal Article
SOAS Departments & Centres: Departments and Subunits > Department of Development Studies
ISSN: 0012155X
Copyright Statement: © 2020 The Authors. Development and Change published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd on behalf of International Institute of Social Studies. This is an open access article under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits use, distribution and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/
DOI (Digital Object Identifier): https://doi.org/10.1111/dech.12585
Date Deposited: 24 Feb 2020 12:32
URI: https://eprints.soas.ac.uk/id/eprint/32408

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