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Washington, DC: World Bank
Middle East and North Africa | Middle East | North Africa
2016-09-27T18:44:59Z | 2016-09-27T18:44:59Z | 2016-10-05

The year 2016 appears to be one of the toughest for the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region as their governments face serious policy challenges. The biggest challenge for oil exporters is managing their finances and diversification strategies with oil below $45 a barrel. Fiscal consolidation in a difficult sociopolitical environment and spillovers from conflicts are creating challenges for oil importers as well. Real GOP growth in MENA for 2016 is projected to fall to its lowest level since 2013 -- 2.3 percent -- lower than last year's growth by half a percentage point and about one percentage point lower than predicted in April 2016. It is clear that the disappointing performance of the MENA economies, and possibly the global economy, is partly due to the rise of terrorist attacks and spread of violent extremism. In this report, we attempt to shed light on the underlying causes of this phenomenon by applying an economic perspective to the demand for and supply of violent extremists. Looking at a dataset on foreign fighters joining Daesh, we find that the factors most strongly associated with foreign individuals' joining Daesh have to do with a lack of inclusion -- economic, social and religious -- in their country of origin. Promoting greater inclusion, therefore, could not only bring down the level of violent extremism, but it could improve economic performance in the MENA region.

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