Monday, October 29, 2007

In Egypt, everything seems to be booming but workers’ wages.

SOURCE: Los Angeles Times—“Discontent Among Egypt’s Workers”

The Egyptian government under President Hosni Mubarak implemented a program of economic liberalization that has resulted in 7% economic growth in each of the last three years. However, the benefits of growth have not been felt by the lower and middle classes. Wage rates have not increased. This, coupled with high inflation has resulted in significant unrest in Egypt, as strikes and work stoppages spread around the country and political dissidents take advantage of the situation to further anti-Mubarak rhetoric.

The Mubarak administration has accused its opponents--groups such as the Muslim Brotherhood (a strict Islamist group) and Kefaya (a secular political organization)--of fomenting unrest among Egyptian workers, but the workers deny this. Instead they assert that economic liberalization has left them behind, only benefiting the wealthy and those with connections to the government.


Egypt’s economic strategy has been very successful on one level, posting high levels of growth. At another level, it is foundering due to unrest among workers who are struggling to survive in an economy where everything is booming but their wages. This latter problem has the potential to create political instability in Egypt. Do you think the situation is salvageable for the Mubarak administration? How might they turn it around?

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