Middle East Studies

Excellence in Scholarship and Learning


Arab Political Demography

Volume 1: Population Growth and Natalist Policies

In the series
Demographic Developments and Socioeconomic Policies in the Middle East and North Africa

Onn Winckler is Senior Lecturer in the Department of Middle Eastern History and the Head of the Multi-Disciplinary Studies at the University of Haifa. He is the author of Demographic Developments and Population Policies in Ba’thist Syria, and co-editor of Modern Syria, as well as the author of a book on Jordanian demographic developments.

(1) examining the sources for demographic research of the Arab countries

(2) explaining the nature of the population growth in the Arab countries in comparison with other developing countries worldwide

(3) examining the development of structural unemployment in the non oil-based and oil-based Arab countries since the mid-1980s, and

(4) investigating the natal policies of both the oil and the non-oil Arab countries, and attempting to answer the crucial question of why some Arab countries succeed more than others in implementing fertility decline.

Written specifically for classroom and student use, with more than 35 tables and figures, this book sets out the political demographic of the Arab countries by:

A concluding chapter examines the political dilemmas arising from the different demographies and economies in the Arab states.

During the 20th century, worldwide population increased more rapidly than ever before, with the world’s population amounting to 6.1 billion by the year 2000. The main contributors to the rapid worldwide population growth were the developing countries, including the Arab countries. During the second half of the 20th century, the demographic issue became the most acute socio-economic problem of the non-oil Arab countries, bringing with it a variety of political implications, both internal and external.

Note from the publisher: It was originally intended to publish volume 2 — Arab Political Demography: Country Case Studies — in October 2008. However, volume 1 has proved so popular and useful as a teaching tool that it has been published as a Revised and Expanded Second Edition (October 2008), and will be updated every few years. It is presented on the website as Arab Political Demography: Revised and Expanded Edition with the following isbns:

978-1-84519-238-9 HB
978-1-84519-240-2 PB

Hardback ISBN: 978-1-902210-70-4
Hardback Price: £55.00 / $75.00
Release Date: March 2005
Paperback ISBN: 978-1-902210-71-1
Paperback Price: £19.95 / $30.00
Release Date: March 2005
Page Extent / Format: 272 pp. / 246 x 171 mm
Illustrated: No


Contents to Follow

In four stimulating chapters, Winckler examines the sources of demographic research, compares population growth in Arab countries with other developing countries, discusses the acute unemployment problem since the mid-1980s, and analyzes birth control policies to see why they have succeeded in some countries and failed in others… The lucid text is backed with appropriate tables, figures, and charts that are invaluable for understanding the subject. Highly recommended.

This volume makes a valuable contribution to the Arab population policy literature by tracing the evolution of population policies in the Arab countries and by describing the factors that led to changes in these policies.
Studies in Family Planning

This volume should be required reading for understanding the demographic challenges the Arab World confronts to achieve much desired long-term economic growth and political stability… The book is quite useful at a variety of levels. For research, it provides a quick reference to a diverse set of demographic articles, databases and trends. For the classroom, it provides invaluable source materials for courses and seminars on the Middle East as well as ample opportunities for extracting materials on the relationship of development to the demographic transition under conditions of windfall resource wealth. To the policy-maker, it provides a cautionary tale of the demographic pitfalls and challenges to stability that exist across the region. ... Extremely engaging … a thought-provoking read. One is left wondering what a different world this would be if pro-natalist policies had not been followed after independence in the Arab World. However, one is also left wondering what impact recent rises in oil prices and Islamic fundamentalism will have on long-term resolve to continue pursuing anti-natalist policies.
Regional Studies

Onn Winckler has been for a number of years a leading light in the field of demographic studies on particular Arab countries; with Arab Political Demography, Winckler integrates new research with his already existing compendium of knowledge on the subject to produce an outstanding and timely examination of an important aspect of development in the Arab world. One only has to observe the high unemployment rates, birth rates, and the percentages of populations under the age of twenty to recognize the tremendous challenges facing governments trying to implement sustained socio-economic development in the region. This unenviable environment, while escaping the “Malthusian population trap” theory, has come to be viewed in the Arab world as no longer an asset but an economic burden that has contributed to frequent domestic instability, the onset of regional crises, and the rise of radical ideologies, such as Islamic extremism. Rapid population growth has had a myriad of deleterious consequences that has negatively affected socio-economic development throughout the Arab world. Winckler expertly shows how natalist and macroeconomic policies need to go hand-in-hand if Arab countries ever hope to emerge from their underdeveloped status, and he offers an invaluable political, cultural and economic history of how the Arab demographic dilemma reached this point.
David W. Lesch, Professor of Middle East History, Trinity University, Texas and author of The Middle East and the United States: A Historical and Political Reassessment

Fresh, focused, and provocative, Arab Political Demography reaffirms Winckler’s reputation as the most reliable and engaging writer on demographic and population policies in the Middle East. Using historical and contemporary data, Winckler probes beyond available statistics to interpret the implications of population policies, the growth in numbers of unemployed and often unemployable youth, and the implications of a growing “informal” economy not reflected in official demographic data. This book is must reading for scholars and policy makers concerned with the Middle East, and offers a model for regional demographic studies elsewhere.
Dale F. Eickelman, Dartmouth College, coauthor (with James Piscatori) of Muslim Politics (2nd edition, 2004)

The book offers an excellent analysis of the dismal state of data in Arab countries, and how they are manipulated for political and / or economic benefit. ... The author offers an excellent commentary on how the huge windfall of the ‘oil decade’ which started in the mid-1970s allowed the resource-rich states to transfrom their rather underdeveloped countries rapidly to ones with modern economies and reliable infrastructure.
Population, Space and Place

Books can be ordered by phone or online

Ordering in the UK, Europe, Asia, Australasia, South America and Rest of the World

Gazelle Book Services
Direct sales tel.: +44 (0)1524 528500; email:
Web ordering:

Ordering in the United States and Canada
Independent Publishers Group (IPG)
Direct sales tel.: (800) 888-4741
Web ordering:

Bookseller Ordering
Information is provided under the Resources tab.

eBook Ordering
e-Book type availability can be sourced via by book title. Kindle availability is via Amazon .com and sites.