The spread and amplification of Syria’s armed conflict have led to a humanitarian crisis with 6.1 million internally displaced persons and 5.6 million registered refugees by the end of 2018, according to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).[1] Since the beginning of the Syrian crisis, the life expectancy at birth has fallen reaching 69.6 years in 2015 compared to 72.6 years fifteen years ago.[2] In 2010, Syria’s population was estimated at 20.7 million, but it dropped to 18.2 million in 2018. The population under the age of 24 made up 57.9% of the total population in 2015 compared to 63.3% in 2000.[2] It is estimated that 54.2% of the total population in Syria in 2018 lived in urban areas compared to 52% in 2000.[3]


According to the most recent data on multidimensional poverty in 2009, 7.4% (1.5 million people) of the Syrian population was counted as multi-dimensionally poor, while 7.8% lived near multidimensional poverty.[4] Currently, three in four Syrians live in poverty and 69% live in extreme poverty.[5] 13.1 million people were counted as in need of humanitarian assistance. Furthermore, 5.3 million live in inadequate shelters, 10.5 million are in need of direct assistance as a result of the war in 2018.[5] 


Syria witnessed a drop in primary enrollment rate to 80.1% in 2013, down from 130.9% in 2012, and a decline in secondary enrollment to 50.5% in 2013, down from 77.3% in 2012.[6] In 2018, 1 out of 3 Syrian schools were either damaged, destroyed or used as collective shelters for IDPS.[5] Over 2 million children in Syria and the host countries are not attending basic and secondary schools(36%).[7]


Once a country with a GDP (current prices) of USD 60 billion and a GDP per capita of USD 2,807 (2010),[8] the Syrian economy has contracted by an estimated 55% according to the 2016 annual report conducted by UNOCHA.[5] In the span of just five years (2011-2016), an estimate of $226 billion cumulative GDP was lost.[9] Inflation is estimated to have increased by 600 percent between 2010 and 2016.[10] With a rise in the staple food prices, especially in the besieged and hard-to-reach areas, 6.5 million people in Syria were food insecure in 2018, with another 4 million facing a high risk of becoming food insecure.[11] At the fiscal level, the fiscal deficit increased sharply by an average of 15.7% of GDP during the period 2011-2014, and reached 22% of GDP in 2015 coupled with a collapse in oil and tax collection and rise in military expenditures.[8] Prior to the crisis, Syrian exports amounted to 569 billion Syrian pounds in 2010 which were mainly made up of fuels and lubricants (46%) and food and beverages (18%).[12]



The labor force participation rate declined from 50.8% in 2000 to 40.7% in 2010, it then remained constant during the 2012-2014 period at 43.6% and dropped to 40.7% in 2018. Women labor force participation rate also witnessed a decline from 20.1% in 2000 to 13.2% in 2010, then registering the lowest in the Arab region in 2018 of rate 11.6%.[13] Youth unemployment rate witnessed a significant change during the period of the crisis, increasing from 19% in 2010 to 34.3% in 2011, then decreasing to 27.4% in 2018.[13] Noting that the situations in Syria pushed many children to join the labor market in order to support their families.



This overview has been drafted by the ADP team based on most available data as of 2 January 2019.




[1] United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR)

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

[3] World Urbanization Prospects, Population Division, United Nations

[4] UNDP Human Development Report 2018

[5] United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UNOCHA), Jan 2018, "2018 Syrian Arab Republic Humanitarian Response Plan"

[6] World Development Indicators, The World Bank

[7] UNICEF’s Response to the Syria Crisis 2018.

[8] International Monetary Fund (IMF),  

[9] The World Bank, country overview

[10] IMF, Finance and Development, December 2017.  

[11] WFP, Syria Situation Report – August 2018

[12] Central Bureau of Statistics (CBS)

[13] KILM – International Labour Organization (ILO)

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Data Highlighted

  • The spread and amplification of Syria’s armed conflict have led to a humanitarian crisis with 6.5 million internally displaced persons and 4.8 million refugees by the end of 2015, according to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).

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