Against the Odds: A Century of Jordanian Economic Survival

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Following independence, but particularly following the 1948–1949 Arab-Israeli War and more so in the wake of the assassination of King Abdullah I, a common prediction among both intelligence units and academics was that Jordan, at least in its initial form, namely as a sovereign political entity under the rule of the Hashemite family, would have a limited lifespan. These pessimistic projections were largely intensified following the June 1967 War and the Black September events. In retrospect, despite the high volatility of the Jordanian economy since the mid-1980s, and more so following the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait, Jordan is currently not only more politically stable than most of the other non-oil Arab countries, but also its socioeconomic situation is better. The aim of this article is twofold: first, to examine the major socioeconomic challenges that the Kingdom had to deal with that led so many to evaluate that it would not survive; and second, to explore the core socioeconomic pillars that enabled Jordan to survive. The core question that remains is, in light of the current major challenges–namely, the continuation of the Coronavirus pandemic; the continuing presence of large number of Arab Spring refugees; the ongoing instability in Syria and Iraq; the Kingdom’s high unemployment rate; and above all, the persistence of the rapid population growth–will the current rentier system work well “enough to survive” or, if not, what will the political consequences of failure be?.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)207-223
Number of pages17
JournalJournal of the Middle East and Africa
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2022

Bibliographical note

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  • Arab Spring refugees
  • coronavirus pandemic
  • economic performance
  • foreign aid
  • population growth
  • the Jordanian-Israeli peace treaty

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cultural Studies
  • History
  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Political Science and International Relations


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