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Kingdom 7th most prosperous country in region, but losing ground globally

By Ana V. Ibáñez Prieto - Nov 30,2017 - Last updated at Dec 01,2017

AMMAN — Jordan has ranked 7th in the Arab region and 92nd worldwide in the 2017 Global Prosperity Index recently issued by the British Legatum Institute, which measures the prosperity of countries in terms of material wealth, personal and social well-being. 

However, the Kingdom’s overall prosperity has declined compared to previous editions of the ranking, having moved 17 positions down since the index’ first issue in 2006 and three since last year. 

Economist Wajdi Makhamreh told The Jordan Times that “the economic situation and the regional turmoil have adversely affected the situation for Jordan over the past years”, stating that “nothing is being done to increase the living standards of Jordanian citizens, who are dealing with increasing prices and taxes”.

“Jordan used to be so much better but, now, all indicators are decreasing, and we should not forget the impact of the Syrian crisis and the current political situation,” the economist said. 

Economist Isam Qadamani attributed the prosperity decrease to “the decline in economic growth, coinciding with the large increase in the population due to hosting refugees beyond the endurance of Jordan”, adding that “the refugee crisis has placed economic and social pressures on resources, and strained the labour market as a result of the increase in population”.

“The average per capita income reflects the economic well-being of any country, and what the decline in the classification of Jordan means is the decrease in the standard of living of citizens and the poor distribution of income,” Qadamani continued.

“The decline in economic growth means that Jordan is no longer attractive to investment, especially as it reflects a deteriorating purchasing power, and it places difficulties in terms of access to loans from international institutions,” the economist added. 

The ranking described the conditions required for prosperity as the combination of nine pillars, namely: economic quality, business environment, governance, personal freedom, social capital, safety and security, education, health and the natural environment.

The biggest positive change for Jordan was registered in the education pillar, where the Kingdom ranked 82nd worldwide, gaining four places compared to last year.

In this regard, Makhamreh pointed out that “Jordan is one of the most successful countries in the Middle East in terms of education,” highlighting that “both schools and universities are widespread with the number of graduates increasing every year”.

However, Jordan saw its safety and security ranking drop by 11 places when compared to last year, which the index report attributed to “increases in battlefield deaths and terrorism” and “the conflict in Syria spilling over national borders”.

The lowest scores were registered in the personal freedom pillar, where the Kingdom ranked 126th despite “signs of increasing liberalisation, as more and more people feel able to engage politically through voicing their opinion”, according to the index report. 

At a regional level, the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region ranked 6th in world prosperity, witnessing a decline in overall prosperity for two consecutive years. 

As per the region, the United Arab Emirates ranked 39th globally, followed by Qatar (47th), Bahrain (62th), Oman (73th), Saudi Arabia (78th) and Kuwait (80th). 

The majority of MENA’s decreased prosperity in 2017 was registered in safety and security with Egypt, Turkey and Libya being the worst performers, while data from several indicators reflected that women are far less engaged in society in MENA than in the rest of the world. 

“While there is growth in the representation of women in parliament, they are hugely under-represented in the labour force — in 2016 just 24 per cent of female adults in MENA participated in the labour force, compared to 51 per cent in the world as a whole,” said the index report, noting that “glimmers of change are perhaps on the horizon — for example, a recent landmark ruling in Saudi Arabia has granted women access to driving licences — but there remains a long way to go for women to be fully integrated into the economy”.

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