Who revolts? Income, political freedom and the Egyptian revolution

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Empirical Economics


Autocratic rule, Democracy, Income, Political freedom, Public choice, Revolution


© 2020, Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature. This study addresses the question: who is likely to participate in a public revolt against autocratic governments? In doing so, it asserts that a greater emancipative value, primarily, as well as a greater importance placed on politics and living of democracy will drive an individual to participate in a revolution. To evaluate this assertion, we explore the connection between an individual’s income level and his or her desire for political freedom in the context of the Arab Spring in Egypt that ousted an autocratic regime. Based on cross-sectional data taken from the fifth wave of the world values survey in 2008, one that employs a nationally representative sample of 3051 respondents from Egypt, we find that high-income individuals are more likely than are middle- and low-income individuals to report higher emancipative values and empowerment to participate in a revolution. This result supports the public choice view that revolutions are motivated by private expected utility and benefits-costs calculus.

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