Yemenis Hopeless About Economy as Revolt Continues

by Richard Burkholder

More than 4 in 10 struggled to afford food for their families in the past year

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Yemenis see their economy at a near standstill after months of violence and political instability. Fewer than 1 in 10 Yemenis described local economic conditions as good in late July and 3% saw the situation getting better. In addition, 5% said it was a good time to find a job locally.

Economic conditions in Yemen

This hopelessness largely reflects the extensive changes Yemenis are witnessing in the country's political environment that are making food and goods shortages and poor employment conditions worse. Already facing calls for his resignation, President Ali Abdullah Saleh was injured in an attack in June that required extended medical treatment in Saudi Arabia. Popular unrest has accelerated since his return to Yemen, spreading from the country's capital Sanaa in the north to Aden in the south.

Although many countries in the Middle East face serious economic, social, and political challenges, Yemen is particularly fragile. More than 4 in 10 Yemenis (42%) say there were times in the past year when they did not have enough money to buy food for themselves or families. Nearly 3 in 10 (29%) were unable to afford adequate shelter or housing for themselves or their families.

Not enough money for food or shelter in Yemen

Not surprisingly, 7% of Yemenis say they are living comfortably, while fewer than one in three (31%) say they are getting by on their present household income. Similar proportions are finding it difficult (30%) or very difficult (32%) to get by. In short, nearly two-thirds of Yemenis find their personal financial situations challenging or untenable.

Yemenis Face Other Challenges

Along with the economic limitations Yemenis are facing, Yemen faces additional challenges. For example, official figures indicate that the majority of Yemenis have not completed primary education.

Widespread corruption exacerbates all of these issues and is one of the main catalysts of the unrest. While Gallup did not measure perceptions about corruption in the July poll, Gallup asked about the subject in a separate poll conducted this past March. At that time, about one-third of Yemenis (34%) said they thought the government was doing enough to fight corruption.


Yemen is facing an economic crisis that is a cause and a result of the country's current unrest. The country "is on the verge of a true humanitarian disaster" on par with that of Somalia, a U.N. Children's Fund's representative for Yemen said at a press briefing in late October. Gallup's recent polling -- on food, housing, employment opportunities, and living standards -- demonstrates how dire the situation has become.

For complete data sets or custom research from the more than 150 countries Gallup continually surveys, please contact or call 202.715.3030.

Survey Methods

Results are based on face-to-face interviews with 1,000 adults, aged 15 and older, conducted July 23- 29, 2011, in Yemen. For results based on the total sample of national adults, one can say with 95% confidence that the maximum margin of sampling error is ±3.8 percentage points. The margin of error reflects the influence of data weighting.

For more complete methodology and specific survey dates, please review Gallup's Country Data Set details.

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