Low-Level Equilibrium Trap as an Economic Premise of the Syrian Conflict

DOI: 10.20542/0131-2227-2022-66-4-54-62
I. Matveev, iamatveev@mail.ru
Institute of Oriental Studies, Russian Academy of Sciences, 12, Rozhdestvenka Str., Moscow, 107031, Russian Federation.

Received 23.09.2021.


The article contains a country case study of the pre-conflict Syrian Arab Republic of the 2000s illuminating the “low-level equilibrium trap.” This universal theoretical notion was developed in the 1950s by R. Nelson for developing countries. It monitors dynamics in the balance between insufficient savings, investments, relatively low income per capita, and high rates of demographic growth. The relevant imbalances largely caused the failure of attempts carried out in the 2000s by the Syrian authorities to secure a quick transfer from the “Socialist heritage” to the socially oriented market economy. The latter was viewed through the lenses of the “Modern Syria” national concept as the Syrian authorities were de-facto trying to copy the experiences of the People’s Republic of China. In pre-conflict Syria, by hampering sustainable development, the above-mentioned “stalemated balance,” i. e. stagnation, could be compared with other challenges for the Syrian economy like the “poverty trap” along with the “security trap” which emerged after the outbreak of the conflict. Examining for the first time the Syrian version of the “low-level equilibrium trap” together with the dichotomy of premises has acquired practical importance in terms of understanding the genuine roots of the Syrian conflict. It allows the author to acknowledge that the conflict itself has been inspired not by hostile activities of foreign actors only but by domestic drivers as well. The author analyzes the “strength” as a key feature of the “low-level equilibrium trap” which determines perspectives of exiting it with the impact of multiple factors and comparing Syria with neighboring countries. The problematic nature of the above-mentioned feature is likely to be kept after the start of the full-scale post-conflict reconstruction with the Syrians returning to a peaceful life. Finding an exit from the “low-level equilibrium trap” to ensure the effectiveness of the national economy presents an imperative.


low-level equilibrium trap, Syrian conflict, economic reforms, Middle East, Syria


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For citation:
Matveev I. Low-Level Equilibrium Trap as an Economic Premise of the Syrian Conflict. World Eonomy and International Relations, 2022, vol. 66, No 4, pp. 54-62. https://doi.org/10.20542/0131-2227-2022-66-4-54-62

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