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The golden 70s

Mar 16,2015 - Last updated at Mar 16,2015

Ever wondered what was the best decade for Jordan?

Wonder no more. It was the 1970s, starting with 1973, when the oil revenue boom took off and with it Jordan’s economic growth.

Our greatest export since the 70s has been workers.

Data tells that this export, based on the size of worker remittances relative to domestic exports, grew as a share of exports for two decades.

Remittances were equivalent to just over 66 per cent of exports in 1967, rose to 101 per cent in 1973 and 197 per cent in 1980, and reached a high of 252 per cent in 1983.

By the way, the rate of remittances to exports continued to grow until it reached 47 per cent of exports in 1991. Today, remittances are more than JD2,327 million, or 48 per cent of exports, which increased thanks to the mining, garment and pharmaceutical sectors that make up the bulk of exports.

The 1970s were also the best years ever for Jordan in terms of aid as a percentage of government revenues.

Foreign grants made up 58 per cent of government revenue in 1967, and 40 per cent in 1973 and 1980.

On average, foreign grants made up 120 per cent of development expenditures during 1967-1982. In other words, grants were a great source of development spending in the country in the 1970s, the decade that witnessed the launch of many great developmental projects.

Unemployment, which in 1970 was 13.7 per cent, fell to 11 per cent in 1973 and then to 1.6 per cent in 1976.

By 1980, the unemployment rate was no more than 3.5 per cent.

Alas, the drop in unemployment rates was short lived; they started to grow after that to the double-digit rates of the past decade.

Actually Jordan has not enjoyed a single-digit unemployment rate since 1989.

But before dropping the issue of unemployment, let me share this figure: The total number of foreign workers in Jordan in 1973 was 376. As Jordanians went to work in the Gulf countries, the number of foreign workers in Jordan kept growing, to reach 80,000 in 1980.

Real economic growth was tremendous also.

Starting the decade with a negative growth rate in 1970, due to domestic turmoil and a growth of negative 1.8 per cent in 1971, growth jumped to 14.6 per cent in 1972 and averaged 12.7 per cent during 1972-1980.

Yes, I think the 1970s were the golden years.

Will they ever return?

I hope so.

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