The IMF Working Papers series is designed to make IMF staff research available to a wide audience. Almost 300 Working Papers are released each year, covering a wide range of theoretical and analytical topics, including balance of payments, monetary and fiscal issues, global liquidity, and national and international economic developments.
Unemployment pressures among nationals are emerging in the Cooperation Council for the Arab States of the Gulf (GCC). 2 At a time when a rapidly growing number of young nationals are entering the labor force and governments are no longer able to act as employers of first and last resort, the non-oil sector continues to rely on expatriate labor to meet its labor requirements in most GCC countries. In this environment, policymakers face the related challenges of addressing unemployment pressures while striking a balance between maintaining a liberal foreign labor policy and a reasonable level of competitiveness of the non-oil sector. Using a matching function framework, this paper examines labor market policies that are likely to expand the ability to hire nationals in the non-oil sector. It finds that an effective labor strategy should focus on strengthening investment in human capital, adopting institutional reforms, and promoting a vibrant non-oil economy.