Iran's Economy under the Islamic Republic

In This Review

Iran's Economy under the Islamic Republic

By Jahangir Amuzegar
I. B. Tauris, 1993
398 pp. $59.50

It would be surprising if a former minister of finance in the shah's regime did not have harsh criticisms to make of the economic record of the Islamic Republic. The surprise, then, is not the overall conclusion, but rather the balanced and dispassionate effort to work through the inadequate data to show what has in fact happened to the Iranian economy since the revolution. The war with Iraq was costly, and the collapse of oil prices in the mid-1980s hurt all oil-producing countries. But the author argues that the primary reason for the nearly 40 percent decline in per capita income in the decade since the revolution was the adoption of an inward-looking economic model. Even with respect to redistribution from rich to poor, Iran has done little more than narrow the gap by making the rich poorer. Nor has the regime succeeded in devising an Islamic model for the economy. Instead, Iran is returning to the policies of industrialization, development of the oil sector and population control that were features of the prerevolutionary economy. This is a sobering book, perhaps too pessimistic in its perspective, but certainly a major source for anyone who wishes to assess the costs and benefits of the Iranian revolution for those it was ostensibly meant to help, the people of Iran.

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