Correlation between GDP per Capita and Protest Intensity:
a Quantitative Analysis

Korotaev A.V.,

Ph.D., Dr. Sci. (Hist.), Professor, Head of Socio-Political Destabilization Risk Monitoring Laboratory, National Research University Higher School of Economics; Professor, Faculty of Global Studies, Lomonosov Moscow State University,

elibrary_id: 72980 | ORCID: 0000-0003-3014-2037 | RESEARCHER_ID: N-1160-2018

Bilyuga S.E.,

post-graduate student, Faculty of Global Studies, Lomonosov Moscow State University; Junior Researcher, Center for Long-term Forecasting and Strategic Planning, Lomonosov Moscow State University,

elibrary_id: 829670 |

Shishkina A.R.,

Master of Political Science, Junior Researcher, Socio-Political Destabilization Risk Monitoring Laboratory, National Research University Higher School of Economics; Junior Researcher, Center for Civilizational and Regional Studies, Institute for African Studies, Russian Academy of Sciences,

elibrary_id: 781188 |

DOI: 10.17976/jpps/2017.02.11
For citation:

Korotaev A.V., Bilyuga S.E., Shishkina A.R. Correlation between GDP per Capita and Protest Intensity: a Quantitative Analysis. – Polis. Political Studies. 2017. No. 2. P. 155-169. (In Russ.).


Our study suggests that the relationship between per capita GDP and socio-political destabilization is not negative as tends to be believed; we are rather dealing with an inversed U-shaped relationship: the highest risks of destabilization are typical for countries with neither the lowest nor the highest values of GDP per capita, but rather with intermediate values of this indicator. Thus, up to a certain value of per capita GDP the economic growth tends to lead to an increased risk of sociopolitical destabilization, and only with relatively high values of per capita GDP its further growth tends to lead to a decrease in sociopolitical destabilization risks. Hence, for higher values of per capita GDP we observe a negative correlation between GDP per capita and the risk of social and political instability, and for lower values it is positive. An especially pronounced positive correlation of this sort is found with respect to such an indicator of sociopolitical destabilization, as the intensity of anti-government demonstrations. A very strong (r = 0,935, R2 = 0,875) statistically significant positive correlation between GDP per capita and the intensity of anti-government demonstrations can be seen in a very wide range (up to 20 000 international 2014 dollars at purchasing power parity [PPP]).Apparently, the positive correlation between, on the one hand, per capita GDP, and, on the other hand, the socio-political destabilization in general, and the intensity of anti-government demonstrations in particular, that we observe in the range of up to 20 000 dollars is one of the factors responsible for the existence of so called middle-income trap. The middle-income trap is usually defined as “the phenomenon of hitherto rapidly growing economies stagnating at middle-income levels and failing to graduate into the ranks of high-income” (according to S.Aiyar et al.). Indeed, as we see, just when an economy approaches the escape from this trap, the destabilization intensity tends to reach very high values, which could trigger particularly strong upheavals that could throw this or that country back for many years. 

GDP per capita; sociopolitical instability; autocracy; democracy; intermediate political regimes; democratization; political development; economic development; antigovernment demonstrations; middle income trap.


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Content No. 2, 2017

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