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CAIRO BOOKS's Description
Over the next two decades, the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region
faces an unprecedented challenge. In 2000, the labor forces of the region
totaled some 104 million workers, a figure expected to reach 146 million by
2010 and 185 million by 2020. Given this expansion, the economies of the region
will need to create some 80 million new jobs in the next two decades. With
unemployment now at about 15 percent, the more ambitious goal of absorbing
unemployed workers in addition to the new entrants implies the need to create
close to 100 million jobs by 2020, a doubling of the current level of
employment in the first two decades of the 21st century. In no small measure,
MENA's economic future will be determined by the fate of its labor markets. The
problems to be overcome are enormous; their complexity is daunting. Yet the
costs of inaction and the benefits of dynamic labor markets underscore the
imperative of acting quickly and decisively. If current trends continue,
economic performance and the well-being of workers will be undermined by rising
unemployment and low productivity. If labor market outcomes improve, however,
MENA's growth will accelerate, raising the living standards of the population
across the region. Unlocking the Employment Potential in the Middle East and
North Africa argues that meeting this employment challenge will require the
transformation of MENA's societies and economic structures. MENA needs a new
development model based on a reinvigorated private sector, greater integration
into the world economy, and better management of oil resources. These drivers
of future growth and job creation require a foundation of better governance.
Moreover, this transformation necessitates a new social contract.