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More Jobs, Better Jobs: A Priority for Egypt


Much of the current debate around the recent economic crisis in the Arab Republic of Egypt has focused on unemployment. Although unemployment is an important marker of labor market health, the jobs problem in Egypt precedes the recent crisis and is manifested markedly in other labor market metrics. Indeed, the link between growth and unemployment in Egypt is weak, particularly for men. This chapter argues that the reason for this weak link is partly related to decades of flawed industrial policies that have discouraged investment in employment-generating activities. Industrial policies, including those implemented in the mid-2000s, were never focused on mitigating market failures to promote the emergence of fast-growing, high-productivity firms. Instead, they have worked to preserve insider privileges, leading to growth in sectors that are not labor intensive. Policy makers therefore need to look beyond supply-side focused labor market policies to accelerate employment growth.