Lately, I’ve seen a lot of statistics about the economic consequences of the Syrian Civil War, much of it disturbing evidence as to the scale of the suffering. For example, one report by the Syrian Center for Policy Research (SCPR) published in March 2015 claimed that Syria had lost more $119bn in Gross Domestic Product (GDP) since the outbreak up until 2014, and that “total losses” amounted to $220bn when comparing to a scenario without the conflict. For a country whose GDP in 2007 was valued at $40bn, this represents an enormous dollar loss in Syria’s output.
Another report, published by UNWRA, made the claim that
“[e]ven if the conflict ceased now and GDP grew at an average rate of five per cent each year, it is estimated that it would take the Syrian economy 30 years to return to the economic level of 2010”.
These are all striking ways of describing the economic costs of the Syrian conflict. At the same time, neither the UNWRA report nor the SCPR is very specific about how it arrived at these quoted estimates and so I felt the urge to take a stab at this in my own way, while also expanding the alternative “non-crisis” scenarios a bit more.
As for GDP, there’s a disclaimer to be made about it only being just one measure – an imperfect one, at that – of economic output, and as for measuring living standards, its per capita variant is but one of many candidates, but as GDP remains the quintessential summary of an economy’s productive capacity, it is the focus of this blog post.