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 in2017, 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 employedbythe 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]

This overview was last updated in January 2019. Priority is given to the latest available official data published by national statistical offices and/or public institutions.


[1] Central Statistical Bureau. 2018. [ONLINE] Available at: https://www.csb.gov.kw/Default_EN [Accessed 5 January 2019].

[2] Population Division of the Department of Economic and Social Affairs of the United Nations Secretariat. 2018. World Urbanization Prospects. [ONLINE] Available at: https://population.un.org/wpp/ [Accessed 5 January 2019].

[3] Population Division of the Department of Economic and Social Affairs of the United Nations Secretariat. 2018. World Population Prospects. [ONLINE] Available at: https://population.un.org/wpp/ [Accessed 5 January 2019].

[4] The World Bank. 2018. Kuwait's Economic Outlook. [ONLINE] Available at https://www.worldbank.org/en/country/gcc/publication/kuwait-economic-outlook-october-2018 [Accessed 5 January 2019].

[5] International Monetary Fund. [ONLINE] Available at: https://www.imf.org/external/index.htm [Accessed 5 January 2019].

[6] The World Bank. 2018. Kuwait's Economic Outlook. [ONLINE] Available at: https://www.worldbank.org/en/country/gcc/publication/economic-outlook-april-2018-kuwait [Accessed 5 January 2019].

[7]  International Labor Organization. 2018. [ONLINE] Available at: https://www.ilo.org/global/statistics-and-databases/research-and-databases/kilm/lang--en/index.htm [Accessed 5 January 2019].

[8] UNESCO Institute for Statistics. 2018. United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization. [ONLINE] Available at: http://data.uis.unesco.org/ [Accessed 5 January 2019].

[9] The World Bank. 2018. World Development Indicators. [ONLINE] Available at: https://databank.worldbank.org/data/reports.aspx?source=wdi-database-archives-(beta)​ [Accessed 5 January 2019].

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Data Highlights

  • 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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