Published February 2nd, 2011 by Future Atlas
Some patterns are emerging from the Middle East unrest that began in Tunisia.
This chart combines three factors that seem relevant:
- Purchasing-power income (from CIA World Factbook)
- Levels of economic freedom (from Heritage Foundation)
- Levels of civil liberties (from Freedom House)
Tunisia, Egypt, Jordan, Algeria, and Yemen are highly similar when plotted against these variables.
- They all have a “5″ level of civil liberties, as assigned by Freedom House; this might be characterized as medium-bad.
- While their income levels vary, they have similar poor levels of economic freedom, characteristic of the state-heavy Arab approach. This chart reflects a multiplier effect for higher levels of economic freedom.
Is it predictive? Where countries end up on the plot may reflect these factors:
- Countries too far to the right on civil liberties — at 6/7 levels — may be too repressive for people power to succeed. Thus, Iran already had its Egypt moment (for now), but it was suppressed. This will be tested as people attempt to demonstrate in Syria.
- Countries too high on the chart may be purchasing stability with wealth (and economic openness). Poverty is absent as a driver, and more of the population is effectively middle class. (Though note Bahrain, which cannot be called truly stable.)
- Countries to the left on civil liberties may be offering enough room to prevent a buildup. Morocco — which is hardly free — may be the test of that.