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Conflict and Stereotypes

Paper Session

Saturday, Jan. 4, 2020 12:30 PM - 2:00 PM (PDT)

Manchester Grand Hyatt, Balboa C
Hosted By: Middle East Economic Association
  • Chair: Marcus Marktanner, Kennesaw State University

The Third Revolutionary’s Socioeconomic Trace in the Arab Uprising

Almut Merkel
Kennesaw State University


Since the beginning of the Arab Uprising in 2010, most Arab states have witnessed a slowdown of economic growth or, even worse as in the case of the conflict countries, a decline in real income per capita. The objective of this paper is to take stock of the socioeconomic burden of the Arab uprising beyond the count of people directly killed in protests or wars. For this purpose, I first calculate the difference between the forecasted counterfactual incomes per capita had the Arab-uprising not taken place and the actual incomes after the structural break imposed by the revolutionary wave. In a second step, I then estimate for all Arab countries the forgone socioeconomic development dividend, focusing especially on child mortality, food insecurity, and forgone educational attainments. In a final step, these results will be visualized and made accessible in a web application to serve a more informed public debate.

Happily Ever After? Did Life Satisfaction Increase After the Arab Spring?

Ronia Hawash
Butler University
Shireen Alazzawi
Santa Clara University


Previous studies have shown that the economic and social development of Arab countries before the Arab Spring of 2011 was associated with life dissatisfaction among its citizens, coined the “unhappy development paradox” (Arampatzi et al., 2018). Some have suggested that dissatisfaction, mainly due to social and economic inequalities, provoked these uprisings (Witte et al., 2018). Yet, the 2011 uprisings have undergone phases of hope, aspiration, happiness, frustration, and despair. The intensity of the political turbulence that took place in the Arab region since 2011 varied on a wide scale ranging from small protests and minor government changes in Algeria, Jordan, Bahrain, Kuwait, and Lebanon to overthrown political regimes in Tunisia and Egypt to civil wars in Libya and Syria. These major political changes and conflicts are expected to have an impact on people’s perception of life, values, and mental well-being, and in particular, their overall satisfaction within the context of new and varied understandings of values such as the importance of human rights and democracy given their changed realities.
This paper has two objectives: The first objective is to examine whether the Arab Spring experience had an impact on people’s reported level of happiness and their perceptions of life satisfaction. We use a pooled cross sectional analysis for the three countries Egypt, Jordan, and Morocco. Given that the degree of political turbulence varied between the three countries from minor in Jordan and Morocco to major in Egypt, we test the role of the intensity of the political conflict on people’s happiness and life satisfaction. The second objective is to examine how people’s life satisfaction in the MENA region after the Arab Spring is shaped by their perceptions of their country’s level of democracy, corruption, respect for human rights, freedom of speech, demonstration and protest, and trust in institutions (police forces, courts, political parties, parliament, and civil service).

The Impact of Economic Sanctions on Managing the International Conflict: A Case Study on the Iran-West Conflict

Islam Abdelbary
Plymouth University
Rasha Elshawa
United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees


The Islamic Republic of Iran since the rule of the Faqih (Supreme leader) following the 1979 revolution have been subjected to sanctions from some major powers and the UN to discourage Iran from pursuing its nuclear ambitions or its desire to be a dominant player in the Middle East region. While Western countries, particularly the United States oppose Iran's nuclear plans, believing that the Islamic Republic is aiming to produce nuclear weapons, Iran insists on its right to use nuclear energy technology by claiming it is only for peaceful purposes. Because of this sharp divergence in Iran and Western views, the economic and financial embargo, for more than three decades, has been a constant pillar of Western foreign policy against Iran.
While the Iranian economy has for many years managed to cope with these sanctions, it has taken more complex, severe and aggressive form especially after the conservative Ahmadinejad took office in 2005. The sanctions were focused on weakening the structure of the Iranian economy; through forced isolation from both International trade and the financial system. This dire situation prompted a new and more prudent policy approach in addition to the negotiation of the Geneva Agreement between Iran and the P5+1 group. The main aim of the study is to examine the effectiveness of economic sanctions diplomacy as a foreign policy tool to settle international conflicts, using Iran as a case study. The importance of the research derives from the scarcity of studies on the impact of economic sanctions on the trajectories of these international conflicts.

Casualties in Syria and the Physical and Mental Health Status of Syrian Refugees in Turkey

Mehmet Balcilar
Eastern Mediterranean University
Jeffrey Nugent
University of Southern California


The conflict in Syria from 2011 to date has resulted in almost half a million Syrian deaths, displaced more than 12 million Syrians over 45% of whom have become refugees. The largest number of the Syrian refugees (over 3.2 millions) have received refuge in Turkey and are presently living in all 81 of its provinces. Many of these refugees have been injured, almost half had their homes in Syria completely destroyed, and large percentages report having family members who were injured or killed in the conflict. The present study takes advantage of the latest survey of Syrian refugees in Turkey (The Health Assessment Survey of Syrian Refugees in Turkey, June 2018 by the WHO). This survey provides data from a randomly selected sample of over 4583 Syrian refugee households from both in camp and out of camp sites taken from the 15 Turkish provinces with the largest numbers of refugees. Its health data show that some 15% of the adults indicated that they had experienced some type of disease symptoms in the last two weeks, and more importantly, that about 40% of them said that over the last 30 days they had experienced at least moderate degrees of each of the following difficulties: distress and sadness, difficulty in concentrating, remembering things, moving around, self-care, and work or household activities, and that they experienced pain and sleep disorders.
The purpose of this paper is to trace these various health conditions of the adult Syrian refugees back to their conditions in Syria (damage to their home, their income in Syria, and injuries or deaths of family members in the war) as well as to their education, marital status and current circumstances in Turkey. We also examine the extent to which different health-related forms of behavior (like smoking) are affected by these factors as well as by household and community characteristics. While we find that location in Turkey, access to electricity in their home, and income in Turkey can have important implications for parental health, we find that having family members killed or injured in the war is associated with worse health in all three general forms (diseases, mental health and physical health and mobility). Unhealthy behavior of the refugees in the form of cigarette smoking is also positively affected by both damage to their home in Syria and having family member killed in the war. While good things coming from life back in Syria, like income and education (especially of females), tend to be associated with somewhat less in the way of disease, higher income in Syria is found to be associated with both more physical and mobility and mental health problems. In other words, mobility and distress, sadness and other mental health problems are aggravated by both sad events like loss of life of family members in the war and loss of high income status. The paper also examines the determinants of income of the household head and of the household as a whole in Turkey and the use of its health care provision facilities and evaluations of the quality of those health services. These findings lead us to some policy recommendations of relevance to the handling of Syrian refugees

Stereotyping and Micro-Aggression in the Workplace: An Experimental Comparison Between Arabs and Europeans

Mohamed El Komi
American University in Cairo
Sheheryar Banuri
University of East Anglia


This project aims to investigate the effectiveness of anti-discrimination policies within organizations in Arab and European contexts. We aim to uncover the mechanism through which anti-discriminatory policies operate. We posit that discrimination persists due to stereotype bias. Individuals within organizations formulate biased expectations of performance, basing them on common priors. These biased expectations are subsequently used in subjective assessments of employee performance. As a result, targets of stereotype bias (disadvantaged groups) are evaluated differently from others (e.g. deprived access to high profile projects and promotions). We adopt an experimental economic methodology, in which we recreate a work-setting by providing student subjects with an effort task: the trivia task. Subjects vary in their gender, religiosity, and ability (GPA). The experiment varies the observability of gender, religiosity, and competence. It measures the extent of bias among the subjects using implicit association tests and see how the results will vary against double-blind evaluations, which is a simple policy used to combat discrimination.
JEL Classifications
  • Z1 - Cultural Economics; Economic Sociology; Economic Anthropology