Demographic and Social Change in the Middle East and North Africa: Processes, Spatial Patterns, and Outcomes

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Abstract

The Middle East and North Africa region has been an important player in the swift demographic transition process that happened in many parts of the developing world starting in the mid-twentieth century. This demographic change was not independent from the developmental efforts and political transformations that the region was experiencing. Social and demographic change in the Middle East and North Africa brought with them power struggles, changes in social and political structures, and confusion in all areas of social life, all of which could be seen in the region. This paper focuses on the more general aspects of the demographic and social characteristics in the countries of the Middle East and North Africa in 1950, 1980, and 2015, bearing in mind the relationship between mentalities and events, and dealing with the issue through the lens of social change, demographic change, resistance, and the struggle for political change in an international context. This study has two main approaches. First, it investigates demographic changes and spatial clustering with a qualitative (cluster analysis) approach in Middle Eastern and North Africa countries based on selected demographic indicators for the years 1950, 1980, and 2015. Then it discusses the relationship between the outcomes of these demographic changes and recent socio-political developments in the region. One of the main findings of this study is MENA countries present three different structures in different time-periods in terms of demographics and these structures are responsible for the regional social, economic, and political transformations.

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Population Horizons

Analysis and debate on policy questions raised by population change

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