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date: 14 November 2019

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter examines the origin and evolution of the authoritarian bargain, or the provision of government welfare in exchange for political control, in North Africa. Following independence, North African states supported significant economic intervention and redistribution. Despite initial successes, these arrangements proved unsustainable and were to come under severe stress in subsequent decades. Fiscal austerity, along with reforms to governing social contracts, created a more durable system with its own internal logic, but also with internal contradictions. Recent upheaval in North Africa, the birthplace of the so-called Arab Spring protests, may be traced to resulting structural rigidities, coupled with the governments’ poor record in responding to a variety of crises. The recent economic history of North Africa, finally, shows how the policy mix that favors redistribution, equity, and security over growth has taken an increasing toll on precisely the social sectors it was intended to protect.

Keywords: North Africa, social contract, authoritarian bargain, economic development, policy reform

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