№ 1, 2023
Economic Origins of Revolutions: the Link between GDP and the Risk of Revolutionary Events
The recent years have witnessed numerous studies that analyze the influence of different factors on the probability of revolutionary events. At the same time, an important set of modernization variables (GDP, urbanization, education, democratization) still remains understudied. Moreover, the results of the contemporary quantitative studies show significant discrepancies in how wealth (operationalized through GDP per capita) affects the risks of revolutionary events. Herewith scholars usually consider such events in the aggregate, without dividing them into armed and non-armed rebellions.
This paper attempts to shed light on the impact of wealth on revolutionary instability, taking into account the distinguishing features of its armed and non-armed versions. On the basis of the analysis of 425 revolutionary episodes of various types over the period of 1900—2019, the authors document a strong linear negative relationship between armed revolutions and the level of GDP per capita, while the relationship between unarmed revolutions and wealth has a curvilinear nature. At first, as GDP per capita increases, the risks of unarmed revolutions increase, but after reaching a certain threshold they begin to fall. The inflection point, when the risk of unarmed revolutionary instability is the greatest, corresponds to the level of GDP per capita in the middle-income countries, which currently face the middle-income trap. In other words, their wealth stagnates at the level that is most risky for the emergence of unarmed revolutions. According to the authors’ conclusion, in addition to the obvious economic problems associated with the middle-income trap, the latter also leads to the increased probability of unarmed revolutionary instability
№ 1, 2022
Education and Revolutions (Why Do Some Revolutions Take up Arms while Others Do Not?)
Despite the existence of numerous hypotheses about what factors influence protesters’ choice of armed vs. unarmed struggle tactics, today there is a dearth of global, quantitative cross-national studies aimed at identifying the reasons why revolutions take a violent vs. a non-violent form. The article attempts to fill one of the gaps existing here by conducting a crossnational analysis of the relationship between education and the type of revolutionary action.
Based on the existing literature, the authors document several mechanisms that nudge educated people to choose unarmed forms of protest. In particular, education makes people more receptive to liberal-democratic valu es (including recognition and respect for the rights of others), promotes the development of tolerance and a culture of peaceful discussion, as well as increases human capital, which, on the one hand, makes it possible to successfully use non-violent instruments to defend one’s interests, and, on the other hand, increases the relative costs of participating in armed uprisings. Hence, the authors put forward a hypothesis, according to which in countries with a higher percentage of the population with formal education, the likelihood of armed revolutionary uprisings will decrease.
The analysis of 387 revolutionary events that took place in the world from 1950 to 2019 conducted via cross-tabulation, correlation and regression methods, fully confirms the hypothesis: high level of education is indeed a strong and significant predictor of the unarmed nature of revolutionary upheavals. The correlation is especially high between the proportion of revolutionary events and the average number of years of schooling (in the logged form), which approaches the level of functional depen dence. Therefore, the factor of education has the maximum influence on the nature of revolutionary uprisings precisely in the early stages of modernization.
Main Page ~ Authors ~ A. V.Korotayev