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Regular version of the site

Article

GDP Per Capita and Protest Activity: A Quantitative Reanalysis

Cross-Cultural Research. 2018. Vol. 52. No. 4. P. 406-440.
Korotayev A., Bilyuga S., Shishkina A.

Our research suggests that the relation between GDP per capita and sociopolitical destabilization is not characterized by a straightforward negative correlation; it rather has an inverted U-shape. The highest risks are typical for the countries with intermediate values of GDP per capita, not the highest or lowest values. Thus, until a certain value of GDP per capita is reached, economic growth predicts an increase in the risks of sociopolitical destabilization. This positive correlation is particularly strong (r = .94, R2 = .88) and significant for the intensity of antigovernment demonstrations. This correlation can be observed in a very wide interval (up to 20,000 of international 2014 dollars at purchasing power parities [PPPs]). We suggest that it is partially accounted for by the following regularities: (a) GDP growth in authoritarian regimes strengthens the pro-democracy movements, and, consequently, intensifies antigovernment demonstrations; (b) in the GDP per capita interval from the minimum to $20,000, the growth of GDP per capita correlates quite strongly with a declining proportion of authoritarian regimes and a growing proportion of intermediate and democratic regimes; and, finally, (c) GDP growth in the given diapason increases the level of education of the population, which, in turn, leads to a higher intensity of antigovernment demonstrations.