Date of Award

Spring 2014

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts


International Studies

First Advisor

Professor Rasha Ahmed


The January 25 Revolution in Egypt and the larger wave of demonstrations throughout the Arab World shattered the façade of stability and have brought the region to a critical juncture. The underlying causes of the Arab Spring point to the preponderance of socioeconomic issues, namely unemployment, poverty, and lack of social mobility. Yet, in the late 1990s in Egypt, Mubarak initiated a series of economic reforms designed to sustain economic growth. In light of the 2011 Egyptian uprisings, I seek to understand the failures of economic reform and persistence of underdevelopment in Egypt through the framework of new institutional economics. Ultimately, economic outcomes are determined by economic and political institutions, which are predicated upon the distribution of political power. I model the behavior of development-enhancing institutions as a stable equilibrium, whereas development-stunting institutions are unstable, leading to extreme outcomes. Through the use of historical evidence, my analysis has shown Egyptian society is largely built upon development-stunting institutions. I have identified a number of trends in the trajectory of Egyptian institutions, including the ability of elites to undermine and evade institutions, and the existence of an imbalance between the incentives of political and economic institutions. Institutions are the foundation upon which society is built. As such, the future development of Egyptian institutions should be subjected to inclusive planning, in which all players, not simply the elites, have a voice in the process. In order to tackle the root of underdevelopment and reform failures, political institutions must first be reformed before economic reform measures are introduced.


Senior thesis completed at Trinity College for the degree of Bachelor of Arts in International Studies.