The Demography of the Arab World and the Middle East from the 1950s to the 2000s
Focusing on North Africa, the Arabian Peninsula and the Middle East (20 countries, 420 million inhabitants), this chronicle examines the major socio-demographic and health transformations in the region since the 1950s and provides a statistical summary of the most reliable recent data for each country. It includes data on population size and structure, fertility and its intermediate variables, nuptiality, mortality, child health, migration and population displacements. Though the region’s socio-demographic and health transitions began later than elsewhere, they have generally been quite rapid. Most countries have already entered a reproduction system characterized by relatively low mortality, increasingly controlled fertility and late marriage. The changes are radical in the three Maghreb countries and Iran; they are slower in Saudi Arabia and Egypt for example, and still very limited in other countries such as Yemen. This diversification of national demographic systems is accompanied by large social or geographical disparities within countries. International migration is another major phenomenon that has shaped the region’s recent history, with migration to the Gulf states and Israel and emigration towards Europe in particular. Urbanization is continuing, though at a pace which varies between countries. Despite major progress in the region, access to education and illiteracy still pose problems in many countries.