Kuwait’s population is estimated at 4.2 million, 2.8 million of which are expatriates, making up around 68 percent of Kuwait's total population in 2018.[1] The entire population is mostly urban, and about 83 percent of the total population live in the capital, Kuwait City.[2] The high immigration rates and great dependence on foreign labor have swung the population pyramid of Kuwait in favor of the working-age groups (15 to 64 years), that account for 77 percent of the total population.[3]


The growth pattern of the Kuwaiti economy and its public finances reflect its dependence on fluctuations in oil prices. With oil accounting for nearly half of GDP, and more than 90 percent of the country's exports, the economy contracted by 3.5 percent in 2017 following the OPEC oil production cuts [4], compared to a growth rate of 7.9 percent in 2012. Growth is estimated to have reached 2.3 percent in 2018 as oil output and exports increase, and a higher share of government spending directed to support the non-oil sector. [5]

Oil revenues currently make up 34.6 percent of total government revenues, down from 60.3 percent in 2013, leading to a drop in the budget surplus from 34.1 percent in 2013 to 7.1 percent in 2018.[5] Public debt has doubled in the past two years but remains at 19 percent of GDP in 2018. After averaging 3 percent over the last four years, the inflation rate scored 1.5 percent in 2017, and is expected to reach less than 1 percent in 2018.[5]

Involuntary Public sector employment continues to be a challenge, where 80 percent of employed Kuwaiti nationals are employed bythe public sector [6], while expatriates account for 83% of the total employed. Unemployment is higher among youth with an increase over the last 18 years from 4.5% in 2000 to 12% in 2018.[7]

Latest figures on education show that adult literacy rate reached 96.2% in Kuwait.[8] The gross primary enrollment rate was 97.2% in 2017 with a gender parity achieved at the primary level. At the tertiary level, gross enrollment increased from 21.2% in 2000 to 32.5% in 2013, close to the enrollment average in the Arab region. Similar to other GCC countries, Kuwait has successfully closed gender disparities at the tertiary level with a Gender Parity of 1.6.[9]


Note: This overview has been updated in January 2019, with the priority given to latest available official statistics published by the Kuwait’s Central Statistical Bureau. When official data is not available or very outdated, the ADP used data published by UN agencies and international organizations.



[1]Central Statistical Bureau (CSB) – Kuwait https://www.csb.gov.kw/Default_EN

[2]World Urbanization Prospects, Population Division, United Nations https://population.un.org/wup/

[3] World Population Prospects, Population Division, United Nations https://population.un.org/wpp/

[4] The World Bank, Kuwait's Economic Outlook, October 2018

[5] International Monetary Fund (IMF) https://www.imf.org/external/index.htm

[6]  The World Bank, Kuwait's Economic Outlook, April 2018

[7] KILM – International Labor Organization (ILO) https://www.ilo.org/global/statistics-and-databases/research-and-databases/kilm/lang--en/index.htm

[8] UNESCO Institute for Statistics http://data.uis.unesco.org/

[9] World Development Indicators, The World Bank https://databank.worldbank.org/data/reports.aspx?source=wdi-database-archives-(beta)


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Data Highlighted

  • Trade has always had a significant weight in Kuwait’s economy, with international trade-to-GDP ratio moderately increasing over the last fifteen years from 86.6% in 2000 to 95% in 2016.

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