The movements inspired by the popular overthrow of autocratic regimes in Tunisia and Egypt earlier this year have raised hopes of a widespread shift in the Arab world towards open and pluralistic regimes, ushering in economic change and ending generations of relative stagnation. But the Economist Intelligence Unit puts only a 20% probability on this outcome. Equally likely is a return to autocracy and repression. The most likely outcome of all, with a 60% probability, is a shift in most countries towards some form of hybrid regime, with political change failing to deliver genuine accountability or popular participation in government decision-making.
Prospects for democratic breakthrough in the Arab world may be unfavourable, but the potential economic gains were it to occur are real enough. In this report, the EIU team models economic growth in the region to 2050 under the three political scenarios, and does indeed find a clear democratic dividend.