With an estimated population of 6.1 million [1], Lebanon currently hosts close to 1.6 million refugees and asylum seekers mainly from Palestine, Iraq, and Syria (UNRWA & UNHCR), namely, it is estimated that there are around 950 thousand registered Syrian refugees in Lebanon. The Syrian crisis put more pressure on Lebanon’s public finances and service delivery and is estimated to have pushed 200,000 additional Lebanese into poverty when already one million Lebanese were living below the national poverty line and around 30% of the population lived on the less than 4 USD/day in 2015.[3][4]


Given the economic and political challenges, real GDP growth dropped sharply from 10.5 percent in 2009 to 0.9 percent in 2011 and has been fluctuating ever since to reach a level of 1.5 in 2018. The drivers of growth, namely tourism, real estate, and construction are unlikely to recuperate in the short run and hence growth prospects remain uncertain (IMF).


The fiscal situation in Lebanon is challenging and the external imbalances large. The overall budget deficit is estimated at 7.3 percent of GDP in 2017. Lebanon’s debt-to-GDP ratio amounts to 148% -the third highest in the world-, which limits the government’s ability to invest in necessary infrastructure improvements, such as water, electricity, and transportation. Lebanon’s current account deficit is expected to remain above 20 percent, with declining goods exports as a share of GDP and a resilient level of imports. This is partly due to higher oil prices but also to Lebanon’s Central Bank’s subsidy schemes making cheap credit available. Given the increase in international oil prices, inflation reached 5 percent in 2017.[7]


In terms of unemployment, women face more challenges to find a job than men, with the unemployment rate scoring 10.9% and 5.5%, respectively. Challenges are even deeper among youth, where female youth unemployment rate registers 24.8% compared to 20.3% for men.[8]

Some sectors seem to be performing better than others. The health system is quite developed in Lebanon with a high life expectancy of 79.5 years and low levels of maternal mortality and infant mortality, reaching 15 per 100,000 and 8.3 per 1,000, respectively. [6]


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



[1] https://population.un.org/wup/Download/World Urbanization Prospects 2018

[2]​ https://data2.unhcr.org/en/situations/syria/location/71   UNHCR Operational Portal Refugee Situations

[3]​ http://www.worldbank.org/en/country/lebanon/overview  The World Bank, Country Overview

[4]​ https://data2.unhcr.org/en/documents/download/44374  Regional Trends in the Impact of the Syria Crisis on Livelihoods and Opportunities: A Socio-Economic Study of Impacts and Opportunities

[5]​ https://data.worldbank.org/?locations=LB-XT  The World Bank

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

[7]​ https://www.imf.org/en/Data  International Monetary Fund

[8]​ https://www.ilo.org/global/statistics-and-databases/research-and-databases/kilm/lang--en/index.htm  KLIM – International Labor Organization 

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Data Highlighted

  • The health system is quite developed with a high life expectancy of 79.5 years in 2015 and low levels of maternal mortality and infant mortality, reaching 15 per 100,000 and 7.1 per 1,000, respectively.

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