Samantha Constant and Mary Kraetsch of the Brookings Institution have created a handy visual aid to understanding the Middle East’s demographics
. The interactive flash graphic shows select economic and demographic information as you scroll over each country, including GDP per capita, youth percentage of the population, secondary school enrollment rate, and unemployment figures. Clicking on each country brings up a more detailed fact sheet that breaks down economic, education, and demographic statistics.The companion write-up to the map
stresses the importance of these figures to youth-inclusive development. Citing the 2009 UN Arab Human Development Report
, the authors point out that the region will need to create about 51 million jobs by 2020 to account for youth entering the work force and already high unemployment rates.
The report does however shy away from some of the Middle East’s most difficult demographic challenges. Iraq and the West Bank are mentioned as areas that will continue to have large youth bulges, but Yemen, which has far and away the most troubling demographics in the region, is not mentioned at all. Adding “total fertility rate” as a statistic, which shows the average number of children born to an average woman over her lifetime, might illustrate these trouble areas more clearly. As illustrated by data from the Population Reference Bureau, Yemen (5.5), the Palestinian Territory (4.6), and Iraq (4.4) all have noticeably higher total fertility rates than other countries in the region, which helps explain why their demographic problems will continue.
The inclusion of total fertility rates would also help make a stronger argument for closer attention to be paid to women’s rights issues, as generally better women’s rights translates to lower total fertility rates, which help draw down youth bulges over time. The report only briefly mentions that more research is needed to create better paths for young women to become productive members of society with “greater career opportunities beyond traditional roles.”
The map does mention that information will be updated on a regular basis so it is worth checking back to see what it added to this useful primer.
Sources: The Brookings Institution, Population Reference Bureau.
Interactive Map: “Understanding the Generation in Waiting” courtesy of The Brookings Institution.