Chapter 3: Health, poverty, education, and gender issues
Good health, low poverty levels, and access to education are important determinants of the quality of life. Prior to the initiation of 30 years of conflict in 1980, Iraq had made dramatic progress in all three areas. In fact, in the late 1970s, Iraq was considered by many to be the leading Arab country with respect to equitable social development. However, the physical and moral destruction of the wars initiated by Saddam with Iran and Kuwait followed by defeat by the US-led coalition, the UN imposed sanctions, Saddam’s overthrow in 2003 by a second US-led coalition, widespread corruption, and the vicious fight with an insurgency that brought the country to the edge of civil war in 2006 tore the fabric of Iraqi society apart. As a result, it is surprising that, with the exception of variables related to gender equality, Iraq’s key social indicators of development are reasonably close to the average of the MENA countries as well as that of the LMIC. In other words, Iraq lost its position of primacy in social development but it did not fall to the bottom; it is now close to the average of countries who have roughly the same level of per capita income.
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