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The report aims to meet two broad objectives: (a) enhance knowledge about the current state of existing social safety nets (SSNs) and assess their effectiveness in responding to new and emerging challenges to the poor and vulnerable in the region by bringing together new evidence, data, and country-specific analysis; and (b) open up and inform a debate on feasible policy options to make SSNs in the Middle East and North Africa more effective and innovative. The first chapter, 'a framework for SSN reform,' describes and illustrates the reasons for the region's growing need for SSN reform and establishes the framework for renewed SSNs. It identifies key goals for SSNs (promoting social inclusion, livelihood, and resilience) and illustrates how these goals have been achieved in some parts of the region and elsewhere. The second chapter, 'key challenges that call for renewed SSNs,' analyzes the challenges facing the region's poor and vulnerable households, which SSNs could focus on as a priority. Two large groups are at higher-than-average poverty risk: children and those who live in rural or lagging areas. The third chapter, 'the current state of SSNs in the Middle East and North Africa,' analyzes SSN spending and assesses different aspects of the SSN systems' performance. The fourth chapter, 'the political economy of SSN reforms in the Middle East and North Africa: what do citizens want?' presents new evidence on citizens' preferences concerning redistribution and SSN design, using newly collected data. It also discusses how political economy considerations could be taken into account in designing renewed SSNs in the region. The fifth chapter, 'the way forward: how to make safety nets in the Middle East and North Africa more effective and innovative,' proposes an agenda for reform and the path for moving forward, using global experience and the evidence presented in the preceding chapters.
In the aftermath of the Arab Spring, when thousands of young women and men fought for the opportunity to realize their aspirations and potential, the question of jobs continues to be crucial in the Middle East and North Africa region. This report uses jobs as a lens to weave together the complex dynamics of employment creation, skills supply, and the institutional environment of labor markets. Consistent with the framework of the 2013 World Development Report on jobs, of which this report is the regional companion, this work goes beyond the traditional links between jobs, productivity, and living standards to include an understanding of how jobs matter for individual dignity and expectationsâ "an aspect that was clearly central to the Arab Spring. Just as important, this report complements the economic perspective with an analysis of political economy equilibrium, with a view to identifying mechanisms that would trigger a reform process. As such, the report has three objectives: First, it seeks to provide an in-depth characterization of the dynamics of labor markets in the Middle East and North Africa and to analyze the barriers to the creation of more and better jobs. It does so by taking a cross-sectoral approach and identifying the distortions and incentives that the many actorsâ "firms, governments, workers, students, education, and training systemsâ "currently face, and which ultimately determine the equilibrium in labor markets. Second, the report proposes a medium term roadmap of policy options that could promote the robust and inclusive growth needed to tackle the structural employment challenge for the region. Third, the report aims to inform and open up a platform for debate on jobs among a broad set of stakeholders, with the ultimate goal of contributing to reach a shared view of the employment challenges and the reform path ahead.
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