Abstract

Over the past three decades, the GCC countries as a group have recorded one of the highest rates of population growth in the world6 (averaging 5 percent a year during 1970-95), reflecting the high rate of indigenous population growth as well as the large influx of expatiate workers. The rapid rate of growth of the national population (averaging 3 ½ percent a year in recent years) is attributable to the high fertility rates in the GCC countries (more than twice the world average) and significant advances in the areas of health and education, which have drastically reduced infant mortality rates (by a factor of 5 since 1970) and raised life expectancy (by some 20 years since 1970). The growth of indigenous labor force has been also influenced by the population’s young age profile (40 percent below the age of 15) and the low participation rate of nationals in the labor market (Table 1).