Libya is a large country with more than three-quarters of the 6.4 million Libyan population lives in urban areas in 2018, a rate that has been relatively stable since 2000.[1] The age structure has been changing in Libya as the share of u population below 24 years of age decreased from 56.4% in 2000 to 45.9%,[2] with a life expectancy at birth of 72 years and fertility rate stable at around 2.3 births since 2000.[1] Furthermore, maternal mortality decreased from 17 per 100,000 in 2000 to only 9 per 100,000 in 2015.[3]

No updates on the poverty incidence have been reported since 2007 when it was reported that more than 790,000 people, representing around 14% of the population at that time, were multi-dimensionally poor, while an additional 6.3%, around 364,000 people, lived near multidimensional poverty.[4]

Access to education has significantly deteriorated, where 300,000 children are in need of education.[5] As a result, school enrollment rates have dropped by one-fifth and 150,000 children have become out of school.[6] It is important to note here that as a result of investment in education over the period 2000-2009, the adult literacy rate in Libya increased to 91.4% in 2015, up from 85.4% in 2000, but the recent deterioration will likely reverse this progress.[3]


The Libyan economy has been driven into recession since 2013,[7] caused by the decline in oil prices and the protracted armed conflict that disrupted the activity of the hydrocarbon sector. In 2017, GDP (Purchasing Power Parity, constant 2011 prices) leveled at Int$ 113.9 billion.[3] Since 2011, real GDP growth (constant 2005 prices) has become noticeably volatile. The strong economic contraction in 2011, reflected by a real GDP growth rate of -66.6% was followed by a high and positive real GDP growth rate of 16.4% in 2018.[8] After reaching a level of 15.9% in 2011, the inflation rate further increased to 20% in 2018.[8]

Oil exports are Libya’s biggest exports, amounting to 97% of the country’s exports and re-exports of goods in 2010. [9]

At the fiscal level, Libya suffered from a fiscal deficit of 39% of GDP in 2018.[8] Government revenues declined from 82.9% of GDP in 2013 to 41.2% of GDP in 2018, while expenditures increased by almost 20% between 2011 and 2018.[8] Noting that the large wage bill and subsidies constituted around 69% of GDP in 2015.[7] At the same time, the Government gross debt to GDP increased from 1.6% in 2011 to 65.4% in 2015.[8]

The unemployment rate has decreased in Libya from 19% in 2012 to 15.9% in 2018, and like other Arab countries, it is the women who are severely affected by unemployment. The women unemployment rate is at 24.7% in 2018, almost double that of men, reaching 12.8 during the same year. Unemployment was highest among the youth, of the age group 15-24 which leveled at 39.6% in 2018. It was – especially high among young women recording 59% compared to 31.2% for young men in 2018.[10]


This overview has been drafted by the ADP team based on most available data as of 28 December 2018. 



[1] ​ World Urbanization Prospects, Population Division, United Nations

[2]​ World Population Prospects, Population Division, United Nations

[3] The World Bank, World Development Indicators

[4] UNDP Human Development Report 2018

[5] United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UNOCHA), Jan 2018, “2018 Libya Humanitarian Response Plan” January 2018  

[6]​ UNESCO Institute for Statistics

[7]​ The World Bank

[8]​ International Monetary Fund (IMF)

[9]​ Bureau of Statistics and Census (BSC)

[10]​ KILM – International Labour Organization (ILO)

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Data Highlighted

  • In Libya, like other Arab countries, it is the women who are severely affected by unemployment. Women unemployment rate more than doubled in recent years, where it rose from 11.3% in 2010 to 24.7% in 2018.

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