Demographic pressures and political instability in North African countries.

Migration Trends 9.29

Summary

  • Recent instability and revolutionary change in the North African region has highlighted the potential for large flows of migrants into Europe.
  • The five Arab countries of North Africa have rapidly growing populations. Egypt, at 84 million, already has a larger population than Germany.
  • Their population grew from 45 million in 1950 to 170 million today - an increase of 125 million, or 2 million people a year on average.
  • Youth unemployment is very high with three million 15- 24 year olds unemployed (excluding Libya where no figures are available).
  • Before the revolutions in Egypt and Tunisia, all these countries were governed by regimes which were regarded as being repressive, authoritarian and corrupt.

Overview

1   The Arab countries of North Africa have been the source of substantial migration, both illegal and legal, into Europe. Some countries in the region - notably Libya and Morocco – have also been used for transit by migrants originating in the countries south of the Sahara to immigrate clandestinely into Europe. Estimates of the Sub-Saharan population of Libya, mostly illegal, range up to 2 million. So far, the numbers coming to Britain have been limited (Annex A).

2   Since January this year three countries in North Africa - Egypt, Libya and Tunisia -  have experienced acute political unrest and change. Some of the factors behind these developments are unique to each of these countries, but they also share some social and political characteristics with other countries in the region:

  • All have very high rates of unemployment among those aged 15 - 24.
  • These young people constituted about one fifth of the populations. Their number has been growing very rapidly over recent decades but is expected to decline somewhat over the next twenty years in Algeria Tunisia and Morocco.
  • All of these countries to varying degrees have (or had) governments which were authoritarian, politically repressive, and often corrupt.

Demographic pressures

3   Demographic pressures, illustrated in the graph below have been a key factor in driving political and social unrest:

Figure 1

graph1

4   Below are summarised some of the consequences of this rapid population increase over the sixty years from 1950 (see also the tables in Annex B).

1950 - 2010

  • Between 1950 and 2010 populations of these five countries grew almost  fourfold, from 44 million to almost 170 million in 2010 - an increase of over 125 million which is over 2 million a year.
  • In 1950, the total population of these countries was lower than that of the UK; by 2010,  their combined population was almost three times that of the UK
  • In 1950, the combined population of these countries, at 44 million was one-third that of those European countries (France, Greece, Italy and Spain) facing them across the Mediterranean. By 2010 their population was 169 million - a gap of only 10 million.
  • The biggest increase was in Egypt, where population grew by over 60 million.
  • Over the same period, the total number of people aged 15 to 24  in all these countries increased by over 25 million to 34 million - averaging over half a million every year
  • Excluding Libya, for which there are no data, numbers of young unemployed in 2005 in the remaining four countries totalled over 3 million.

2010 – 2030

  • The projected population growth in these countries over the next 20 year period is 46 million, or almost 2.5 million a year, to a total of 215 million.

Economic and social stability

5   Arab countries in the Middle East are reported by the ILO as having the highest rates of unemployment in the world. Unemployment rates for young people - aged 15 to 24 - are tabulated below for four of these countries:

Country

Unemployment Rate (%) for Young people (15 – 24)

Algeria 2008

24

Egypt 2007

25

Libya

N/A

Morocco 2008

18

Tunisia 2005

31

Source: ILO

2

Political instability

6   The countries of this region have had governments that are authoritarian, undemocratic and corrupt. Below are results for these countries in two indices that measure democracy and corruption and facilitate comparison between countries (the index dates from 2010 and therefore does not reflect the recent revolutions in Egypt and Tunisia):

Democracy Index

Country

Regime Type

World Ranking (out of 167)

Algeria

Authoritarian

125

Egypt

Authoritarian

138

Libya

Authoritarian

158

Morocco

Authoritarian

116

Tunisia

Authoritarian

146

Source: Economist Intelligence Unit

7   Three out of five of these countries are in the bottom quintile of rankings, and the two others are not far removed from it.

Corruption Index

Country

World Ranking (out of 178)

Algeria

105

Egypt

98

Libya

146

Morocco

85

Tunisia

59

Source: Transparency International

8   Whilst comparisons with other countries using this index are more encouraging, only two countries - Morocco and Tunisia - are not in the bottom half of rankings.

31 March, 2011

Annex A

3

Figure 1  Grants of Asylum from Algeria and Libya between 2000 and 2009. Source: Control of Immigration Statistics 2009.

4
Figure 2  Grants of settlement from North Africa between 2000 and 2009. Source: Control of Immigration Statistics 2009.

Annex B

Table 1: Total Population

Country

1950

1980

1990

2000

2010

2020

2030

Algeria

8753

18811

25283

30506

35423

40630

44726

Egypt

21514

44433

57785

70174

84474

98638

110907

Libya

1029

3063

4365

5346

6546

7699

8519

Morocco

8953

19567

24805

28827

32381

36200

39259

Tunisia

3530

6457

8215

9452

10374

11366

12127

TOTAL

43779

92331

120453

144305

169198

194533

215538

Table 2: Percentage of Population Aged  15 - 24

Country

1950

1980

1990

2000

2010

2020

2030

Algeria

18.6

19.3

20.4

22.6

20.5

14.8

15.5

Egypt

19

19.7

18.4

20.9

20.2

17.4

17.2

Libya

18.5

18.2

21.1

24.3

17.3

16.3

17

Morocco

19.2

20.7

20.2

21.1

19.7

16

15.6

Tunisia

18.2

21.1

20

20.7

19.3

13.7

13.3

Table 3: Numbers of People Aged 15 - 24

Country

1950

1980

1990

2000

2010

2020

2030

Algeria

1628

3631

5158

6894

7262

6013

6933

Egypt

4088

8753

10632

14666

17064

17163

19076

Libya

190

557

921

1299

1132

1255

1448

Morocco

1719

4050

5011

6082

6379

5792

6124

Tunisia

642

1362

1643

1957

2002

1557

1613

TOTAL

8268

18354

23365

30899

33839

31780

35194

Source: UN World Population Prospects: The 2008 Revision Population Database
Note: Data for 2010 – 2030 is projected using ‘medium variant’assumption.

Table 4: Numbers of Young - 15 to 24 - Unemployed (‘000)

Country

2001

2002

2003

2004

2005

2006

2007

2008

Algeria

1081.4

N/A

996

762.3

699.1

536.4

596.6

528

Egypt

1385.7

1152.7

1476.9

1521.1

1762.5

1632.6

1342.7

 

Morocco

498.7

461.7

466

425.4

420.9

414.9

428.6

449.4

Tunisia

202.8

208.3

206.2

193.6

205.9

N/A

N/A

N/A

TOTAL

3168.6

N/A

3145.1

2902.4

3088.4

N/A

N/A

N/A

Source: ILO

Note: There are no data for Libya

Sources of Data

Sources of Data:

Population: 1950 – 2030
http://esa.un.org/UNPP/

Population Growth
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_population_growth_rate

Illegal Immigrant Numbers in Libya
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Illegal_immigration

Index of Democracy
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Democracy_Index

Index of Corruption
http://www.transparency.org/policy_research/surveys_indices/cpi/2010/results

Unemployment:
http://laborsta.ilo.org/
http://www.ansamed.info/en/news/ME.XEF68151.html
http://europenews.dk/en/node/39508

See also para. 3 of the ILO Statement on the unrest in Egypt:
http://www.ilo.org/global/about-the-ilo/press-and-media-centre/statements-and-speeches/WCMS_151208/lang--en/index.htm

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