Restoring Balance in a Post-Conflict Society
Chapter 2: Population and key macroeconomic variables
There is no shortage of data on Iraq’s macroeconomy. The problem is that the data available is often inconsistent. When it comes to the size of the country’s population, Gross Domestic Product (GDP), unemployment, and inflation, not only do different sources provide very different numbers but also the trend of a single variable from a single source is often unreliable. The latter problem is often caused by unannounced changes in the composition of a variable or the method of its estimation. The three decades of internal and external conflict have made it difficult and often dangerous to gather data. For example, during post-1991 periods of severe internal conflict, markets in many areas of Iraq were split; it was dangerous or impossible for workers, customers, or products to travel even short distances. Iraq, for periods of time, ceased to be a national market rendering data on trade, manufacturing, agriculture, employment, and so on difficult to gather and interpret. Also, since 2003, the Government of Iraq (GoI) has been engaged in a difficult transition from socialist accounting to that of a modern market economy. As shown in Eastern Europe after the collapse of the Soviet Union, this transition can lead to serious gaps in data as definitions and collection methods change. In addition, the GoI continues attempts to conceal unfavorable data in order to put its operations in the best possible light.
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