Political Economy of Development and Change in the Middle East

Key information

Start date
End date
Year of study
Final Year
Term 1
Module code
FHEQ Level
Department of Economics

Module overview

This course is about the economic structures, institutions and policy challenges in the countries of the Middle East and North Africa (MENA). The course starts with a broad economic history of the region and goes on to address the emergence of the economic structures, resource endowments, and political economy institutions of the modern Middle East. The course highlights the specificities of the political economy of the region in a global cotext and covers selected aspects of economic policy in the contemporary period in these countries. The contemporary nature of the problems facing the MENA countries are addressed throughout the course.



Pre-requisite Modules:

153400123 OR 153400130 OR 153400124

(Macroeconomic Analysis OR Microeconomic Analysis OR Issues in Development Economics)


Objectives and learning outcomes of the module


LO1.  Understand the socio-economic features and structural characteristics of the MENA economies

LO2.  Develop a broad understanding of the economic history of the region in the 19th Century in general, and be able to assess the impact of integration into the international economy, in particular

LO3.  Understand and differentiate between different types of economies within the MENA region (oil and non-oil economies, labour surplus and labour deficit economies, small and large, agrarian and non-agrarian economies, etc.)

LO4.  Discuss and apply key concepts of economic policy analysis to contemporary problems and opportunities facing MENA countries

LO5.  Focus on thematic policy issues relating to a wide range of topics within the MENA countries

Appreciate the position of these countries in the wider context of the international economy




Two hour lecture together with a one hour seminar, each week.


Scope and syllabus


Lecture 1:  Introduction to the Course and Overview of the Region

Lecture 2:  The Middle East and the World Economy in Historical Perspective

Lecture 3:  Middle East Oil and its impact prior to the formation of OPEC

Lecture 4:  Middle East Oil and its impact since the formation of OPEC

Lecture 5:  Models of OPEC behaviour and the role of the Middle East in internaitonal oil market

Lecture 6:  Intra-regional Resource Flows and Labour Migration

Lecture 7:  Population, Fertility and Demographic Transition

Lecture 8:  Labour Markets in the Middle East

Lecture 9:  Growth and Structural Change in Resource Rich Economies

Lecture 10: Industrialization Policies and Problems in the Middle East


Method of assessment

AS1 - 60% / PR1 - 30% / SP1 - 10%


Suggested reading

Core Reading:


Karshenas, M. (2001) ‘Structural Obstacles to Economic Adjustment in the MENA Region:  The International Trade Aspects’, in H. Hakimian and Z. Moshaver (eds.), The State and Global Change:  the Political Economy of Transition in the  Middle East and North Africa,  ch.3, pp.59-80, Surry:  Curzon Press.

Assad, R. (2013), ‘Making sense of Arab labour markets: The enduring legacy of dualism’, Institute for the study of labour, Discussion paper series No. 7573.

Richards A. and J. Waterbury (2008), A Political Economy of the Middle East, State: Class and Economic Development, 3rd edition, Boulder Colorado: Westview.

Yousef, Tarik (2004), “Development, Growth and Policy Reform in the Middle East and North Africa since 1950”, The Journal of Economic Perspectives, 18 (3): pp. 91-115.

Hadi S. Esfahani (2007) ‘A Reexamination of the Political Economy of Growth in MENA Countries’, in Jeffrey B. Nugent and M. Hashem Pesaran (eds.), Explaining Growth in the Middle East, (Contributions to Economic Analysis), Elsevier Science, January 2007, ch.3, pp.61-102.

Harris K., (2016), “Making and Unmaking of the greater Middle East’, New Left Review, 101. Sept-October 2016, pp.5-34.

Malik A. and B. Awadallah (2013), ‘The Economics of the Arab Spring’, World Development, Vol.45, pp.296-313

Shafik, N. (ed., 1998), Prospects for Middle Eastern and North African Economies – From Boom to Bust and Back?, Basingstoke and London:  Macmillan Press.

Hakimian, H. and Z. Moshaver  (eds, 2000), The State and Global Change: The Political Economy of Transition in the Middle East and North Africa, London: Curzon Press.

Additional Reading:


Karshenas, M., V.M. Moghadam and N. Chamlou, ‘Women, Work, and Welfare in the MENA region:  Introduction and Overview’, in Chamlou N. and M. Karshenas, Women, Work and Welfare in the Middle East: The Role of Socio-Demoghraphics, Entrepreneurship, and Public Policies, pp. 1-30. London: Imperial College Press, 2016

Issawi, C (1970), ‘Middle East Economic Development, 1815-1914: The General and the Specific’, in M A Cook (ed., 1970), Studies in the Economic History of the Middle East, Oxford: OUP, pp. 395-412.

Issawi, C (1982), An Economic History of the Middle East and North Africa, New York: Columbia UP; especially chs 1 &2.

Owen, R (1981), The Middle East in the World Economy 1800-1914, London: Methuen.

Issawi, C (1966), An Economic History of the Middle East - 1800-1914, Chicago.

Hershlag, Z Y (1964), Introduction to the Modern Economic History of the Middle East, Leiden: E J Brill; chs 1-5.

Batou, J (1991) Between Development And Underdevelopment: The Precocious Attempts At Industrialization of The Periphery : 1800-1870, Geneva: Librairie Droz.

M Karshenas (1990), Oil, State and Industrialization in Iran, Cambridge: CUP, Ch 2, pp 30-63.

H Hakimian (1997) "[Iranian] Economy in the Qajar Period", Encyclopaedia Iranica, edited by E Yarshater, Mazda Publishers, Costa Mesa, California, vol 8, fascicle 2.

Issawi, C (ed., 1971), The Economic History of Iran 1800-1914, Chicago.

Nowshirvani, V. F. (1981), ‘The Beginnings of Commercialized Agriculture in Iran’, in A L Udovitch (ed.), The Islamic Middle East 700-1900: Studies in Economic and Social History, Princeton, pp 547-91.

Gilbar, G ‘Persian Agriculture in the Late Qajar Period, 1860-1906: Some Economic and Social Aspects,’ Asian and African Studies, 12, pp 312-65.

Hakimian, H (1985), ‘Wage Labour and Migration: Persian Workers in Southern Russia, 1880-1914’, International Journal of Middle East Studies, 17, no 4, pp 443 462.

Omran, Abdel R. and F. Roudi (1993), ‘The Middle East Population Puzzle’, Population Bulletin, vol. 48, no. 1 (July).

Fargues, P (1997), ‘Policies and the Birth Rate in Egypt: from Socialism to Liberalism’, Population and Development Review, vol 23, no 1, March.

Courbage, Y (1999), ‘Issues of Fertility Transition in The Middle East and North Africa,’ Working Paper 9903Economic Research Forum for the Arab Countries, Iran and Turkey’, Cairo.

Williamson, J. and T. Yousef (2002), ‘Demographic Transitions and Economic Performance in the Middle East and North Africa’ in I. Sirageldin (ed.), Human Capital: Population Economics in the Middle East, Ch.1, pp.16-35, Cairo: AUC Press.

Rashad, H. and Z. Khadr, ‘The Demography of the Arab Region:  New Challenges and Opportunities’ in I. Sirageldin (ed.), Human Capital: Population Economics in the Middle East, Ch.2, pp.37-61, Cairo: AUC Press

Karshenas, M.  ‘Economic Liberalization, Competitiveness, and Women’s Employment in the Middle East and North Africa’,  in Djavad Salehi-Esfahahi (ed.), Labour and Human Capital in the Middle East, ch.4, pp.147-169, 2001, Ithaca Press: Reading.

Assad, R. (2013), ‘Making sense of Arab labour markets: The enduring legacy of dualism’, Institute for the study of labour, Discussion paper series No. 7573.

World Bank (2004), Unlocking the Employment Potential in the Middle East and North Africa: Toward a New Social Contract, Chs. 3-4, pp45-126, World Bank, Washington D.C.

Assad, R. and F. Roudi-Fahimi (2007), Youth in MENA: Demographic Opportunity or Challenge? Population Research Bureau Policy Briefs, Washington D.C.

Fortuny M. and J. Al Husseini (2010), ‘Labour Market Policies and Institutions: The cases of Algeria, Jordan, Morocco, Syria and Turkey’, Employment Working Paper Series No. 64, ILO, Geneva.

Shaban R., R. Assad and S. al-Qudsi (1995), “Employment Experience in the Middle East and                                      North Africa,” International Labor Review.

Mehlum H., K. Moene and R. Torvik, ‘Institutions and the Resource Curse’  Working paper n.29/2002, Department of Economics, University of Oslo.

Sachs, J.D. (2007), ‘How to Handle the Macroeconomics of Oil Wealth’, in M. Humphreys, J.D. Sachs & J. E. Stiglitz (eds.), Escaping The Resource Curse, Ch.7 pp.173-93, Columbia University Press: New York.

Sachs, J.D. and M. Warner (2001), ‘Natural Resources and Economic Development:  The Curse of Natural Resources’, European Economic Review 45, pp.827-38.

Wright G. and J. Czelusta, (2003), ‘Mineral Resources and Economic Development’ , mimeo, Stanford Centre for International Development, Stanford University.

Katouzian, H (1979), 'The Political Economy of Development in Oil Exporting Countries', Peuples Mediterraneen, 2, pp 3-22.

Karshenas, M (1990), Oil, State and Industrialization in Iran, Cambridge: CUP, ch 1, pp 5-24.

Mahdavi, H (1978), 'Patterns and Problems of Economic Development in Rentier States: the Case of Iran', in M A Cook (ed), Studies in the Economic History of the Middle East, Oxford: OUP, pp 428-468.

Salehi-Isfahani, J. (2005), ‘Microeconomics of Growth in MENA:  The Role of Households’, mimeo, Department of Economics, Virgina Tech.



Important notice regarding changes to programmes and modules