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Anatomy of an Oil-Based Welfare State: Rent Distribution in Kuwait

posted on 2023-06-07, 22:46 authored by Laura El-Katiri, Bassam Fattouh, Paul Segal
Oil wealth has transformed Kuwait within decades from a modest, trade-based desert emirate into a modern city-state. It has also created a relatively egalitarian economy based on an extensive distributive system that provides Kuwaiti citizens with essential services including free healthcare, education and social security. Therefore, the most important fact about Kuwait's oil wealth is that it has been successfully used to benefit its citizens. This feat has been achieved through a broad distributive welfare state. Nevertheless, Kuwait's policies of rent distribution have developed in an ad hoc manner into an uncoordinated system. Some of Kuwait's policies of rent distribution, such as subsidizing utilities and providing public employment, have resulted in substantial distortions, inefficiencies and institutional deficiencies, and thus there remains substantial scope for improvement.


Publication status

  • Published



Book title

The Transformation of the Gulf States: Politics, Economics and the Global Order

Department affiliated with

  • Economics Publications

Full text available

  • No

Peer reviewed?

  • Yes


H David, U Kristian

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