Working Papers

Big Spending, Small Returns: The Paradox of Human Resource Development in the Middle East

Publication Number: ECESWP2-E

June, 1996

Author : Nemat Shafik

Type : Working Papers

The Arab countries spend more public resources on education than any region in the world, but the outcome in terms of human resource development is one of the poorest, especially relative to their income level. This paper explores four possible hypotheses to explain this paradox: (i) social indicators in the oil exporters are catching up with sharp increases in wealth; (ii) spending in the social sectors is inefficient; (iii) market distortions do not reward appropriate human capital accumulation; and (iv) under investment in females has lowered returns to social expenditures.