Abstract: This paper combines both objective and subjective welfare measures to study welfare dynamics in countries in the Middle East and North Africa. Absent actual panel data, we employ recently developed statistical techniques to construct synthetic panels using repeated cross sections from household and Gallup Poll surveys, conducted during the 2000s and the Arab Spring period. Our findings suggest that analysis of welfare dynamics using expenditure data from household surveys do not always align with that based on subjective wellbeing data from value surveys, pointing to the need to combine both types of data for richer analysis. Before the Arab Spring, upward mobility for objective welfare was reasonably strong for Palestine, Tunisia, and Syria, while downward mobility was observed for Yemen, Egypt, and Jordan. Life satisfaction was falling, however, in most countries before and after the Arab Spring transitions. Only Morocco shows positive dynamics with the size of the unhappy population declining by more than a quarter. Lower education achievement, informal work, and rural residence are characteristics associated with worse upward mobility and more pronounced downward mobility for both objective and subjective welfare measures.
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