China’s Fear Justified

From a statistical analysis forecasting for the 40 countries with the greatest likelihood that a nonviolent uprising would begin there at some point in 2011. China ranks 1ST and its likelihood of an uprising far exceeds that of other countries:

Some interesting, if not surprising, findings from the exercise:

Other things being equal, nonviolent rebellions are more likely to occur…

  • In countries with the least democratic institutions;
  • In countries with more expansive civil liberties;
  • In countries with higher literacy rates;
  • When more uprisings are already occurring in regional neighbors;
  • In the post-cold war period;
  • In countries that belong to the WTO;
  • In countries that have signed the 1st Optional Protocol of the ICCPR: and
  • When economic growth is slower.

Facebook/Twitters/Mobile phones may not be the key factors:

There are also some interesting negative findings here. According to my analysis, variables that are not particularly useful for forecasting nonviolent rebellion when the measures listed above are also in the mix include:

  • Poverty (as measured by infant mortality);
  • Cellular phone penetration (as measured by mobile phone subscribers per 1,000 population); and
  • Internet access (as measured by users per 1,000 population).

These three negative findings contradict many of the on-the-fly explanations I’ve read for the protests that are occurring this year in the Middle East and North Africa. It’s also worth pointing out that the association identified between economic growth and nonviolent uprisings is pretty tiny. It’s not quite zero, but it’s awfully close to it, and that result contradicts the prevailing belief that economic slowdowns are one of the, if not the, most important triggers to popular unrest.

I think quantitative analysis does a great job in a study of this nature. It appears to me that Facebook/Twitters/mobile phones are just factors that are too easy to identify which are often not the real causes.

Read the rest here.

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