Private Savings in the Arab Countries: Empirical Analysis and Policy Implications

  •  Samih Azar    
  •  Ali Bolbol    
  •  Alexandre Mouradian    


In the past two decades, Arab countries have had their fair share of political instability and economic dislocations. They have also experienced relatively low national savings – at close to 24%, more than 10% less than the Asian economies. This paper looks at how private savings can be invigorated so as to finance more investment and growth, especially in the presence of persistent budget deficits. It develops a simple macroeconomic equation for the determinants of private savings, and uses a novel econometric approach – Robust Least Squares – to estimate that equation for a sample of ten Arab countries across the three sub-regions of the Gulf, West Asia, and North Africa, for the annual 1994-2015 period. The paper finds that Arab private savings compensate for government dis-savings and help ameliorate pressures on the current account and exchange rates. It also finds that Arab private savings are closely related to long-run Arab GDP growth ala the life cycle hypothesis, and proposes policies to enhance the mutual growth of Arab private savings and GDP.

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