Publication: Uneven Odds, Unequal Outcomes: Inequality of Opportunity in the Middle East and North Africa
Lara Ibarra, Gabriel
Perceptions of eroding living standards and low life satisfaction are widespread in the Middle East and North Africa region today, along with pessimism about prospects for economic mobility. Conventional measures of economic well-being offer little in the way of explanation – in most countries in the region, extreme poverty is low and declining and economic inequality is lower than in other parts of the world. This book investigates possible reasons for this disconnect, focusing on the role played by inadequate and unequal access to opportunities to realize one’s aspirations for economic mobility. The inability of most countries in the region to meet the aspirations of citizens is closely linked to persistent weaknesses in the labor markets where the pace of job creation has been chronically below levels required to absorb the growing and increasingly better educated population. A high degree of segmentation in the labor markets also puts the youth and women in the region at a particular disadvantage. While labor markets are critical for mobility, opportunities and life paths can diverge even earlier in life if access to basic services in health, education and infrastructure are unequally distributed among children in their formative years. This book documents sharp disparities in the quality of services available to children of varying birth circumstances in the region. Although the most intense debates in development coalesce around inequality of income or wealth, the notion of inequality of opportunity has an intuitive appeal that can bridge ideological differences. By drawing attention to the notion of equality of opportunity to create a level playing field for all sections of society, the book highlights the need to critically examine the social contract and governance structures that guide the delivery of services and are instrumental for implementing necessary reforms to make labor markets more dynamic and equitable.
“Krishnan, Nandini; Lara Ibarra, Gabriel; Narayan, Ambar; Tiwari, Sailesh; Vishwanath, Tara. 2016. Uneven Odds, Unequal Outcomes; Uneven Odds, Unequal Outcomes: Inequality of Opportunity in the Middle East and North Africa : Inequality of Opportunity in the Middle East and North Africa. Directions in Development--Poverty;. © Washington, DC: World Bank. http://openknowledge.worldbank.org/handle/10986/24596 License: CC BY 3.0 IGO.”
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