The gap in wealth between Morocco and other MENA countries with similar levels of economic development is primarily the result of lower levels of human capital per capita, the World Bank reports in a 2018 study on global wealth, entitled “The Challenging Wealth of Nations.”
Morocco’s economic advancement is not to be ignored. Between 2005 and 2014, the country achieved strong growth in per capita wealth, totaling a rise of 45 percent. But if the change in real wealth per capita is added to this data, the authors of the study find Morocco’s economic growth sluggish and inconsistent.
During the same time span, per capita wealth fell from roughly USD 400 to less than USD 100. In 2014, 41 percent of Morocco’s total wealth was human capital, compared with 59 percent in Egypt and 65 percent in Lebanon. The human capital gap, compared with these countries “fully explains why total wealth per capita in Morocco is well below the average.”
In a speech presented in July 2014, King Mohammed VI called for an assessment of Morocco’s development that would include the country’s historical and cultural heritage, social and human capital, the quality of institutions, innovation and scientific research, cultural and artistic creativity, the quality of the environment, “so that all Moroccans may benefit from their country’s wealth.” At the time of the speech Morocco’s economic progress had been maintaining a positive trend since 2000, particularly driven by investment in fixed capital, especially in the public sector
Nevertheless, the rate of convergence with high-income countries, including Mediterranean peers, “was too low to meet the aspirations of Moroccan citizens, particularly its youth,” the World Bank writes.
The World Bank states that the country is still seeking convergence with higher-income countries. To achieve this goal, the country’s development agenda consists of macroeconomic reforms, increased trade and competitiveness, and institutional reforms.
Equally important, the report explains, is the kingdom’s human capital.
“Human capital is the largest source of wealth in most advanced economies, building Morocco’s human capital is the development challenge.”
To build human capital, Morocco requires reforms in the education sector and labor market, plus a greater emphasis on early childhood development.
From 2005 to 2014, women have accounted for only one-fifth of total human capital in Morocco, states the World Bank, explaining that if gender parity in human capital wealth were achieved, levels of human capital wealth in Morocco could increase by more than a third.
Furthermore, the country should invest in early childhood development, as well as its educational system; though investments in education have led to universal primary enrollment and higher enrollment rates in secondary and postsecondary education, quality remains low.
Finally, the report states that equally important changes include institutional reforms to create a modern administration, improvements in public investment and financial management, and increased accountability and access to information.