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Inside Inequality in the Arab Republic of Egypt: Facts and Perceptions

By: Sherine Al-Shawarby, Enas Ali A. El-Majeed, Sahar El-Tawila, May Gadallah, Branko Milanovic, Paolo Verme

The Measurement of Inequality in Egypt: A Historical Survey
  • Spatial Inequality
  • Facts and Perceptions of Inequality
  • Poverty and Inequality in Egypt’s Poorest Villages

One of the puzzling aspects about inequality in Egypt is that the measurement of monetary inequality by means of household surveys does not seem to match perceptions. The book aims at elucidating this puzzle and providing a better understanding of income inequality in Egypt in its various dimensions.

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The questions addressed by this impressive volume, probably the most comprehensive account of income distribution in Egypt for some time. Motivated by the apparent paradox of falls in measured inequality coexisting with growing public concern, the book is the scholarly equivalent of a crime mystery, with its superb team of authors playing the role of detectives. Close Quotes

Francisco H. G. Ferreira
World Bank Chief Economist for Africa Region

This book joins four papers on inequality in the Arab Republic of Egypt prepared in the framework of the World Bank 2012–13 Egypt inequality study and it is a joint effort between the World Bank and the Social Contract Center of Egypt.

The first paper prepared by Sherine Al-Shawarby reviews the studies on inequality in Egypt since the 1950s with the double objective of illustrating the importance attributed to inequality through time and of presenting and compare the main published statistics on inequality. To our knowledge, this is the first time that such a comprehensive review is carried out in Egypt.

The second paper prepared by Branko Milanovic turns to the global and spatial dimensions of inequality. The objective here is to put Egypt inequality in the global context and better understand the origin and size of spatial inequalities within Egypt using different forms of measurement across regions and urban and rural areas. The Egyptian society remains deeply divided across space and in terms of welfare and this study unveils some of the hidden features of this inequality.

The third paper prepared by Paolo Verme studies facts and perceptions of inequality during the period 2000–09, the period that preceded the Egyptian revolution. The objective of this part is to provide some initial elements that could explain the apparent mismatch between inequality measured with household surveys and inequality aversion measured by values surveys. No such study has been carried out before in the Middle East and North Africa region and this seemed a particular important and timely topic to address in the light of the unfolding developments in the Arab region.

The fourth paper prepared by Sahar El Tawila, May Gadallah, and Enas Ali A. El-Majeed assesses the state of poverty and inequality among the poorest villages of Egypt using a unique survey conducted in 2009/10 and covering over 10,000 people. The paper attempts to explain the level of inequality in an effort to disentangle those factors that derive from household abilities such as health, education, and employment (household characteristics) from those factors that derive from local opportunities such as the availability of health, education, and economic facilities (village characteristics). This is the first time that such study is conducted in Egypt.