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Browsing by Author "Paasonen, Kari"

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  • Paasonen, Kari (2017)
    It is often assumed that unemployment increases the probability of armed conflicts, riots and political instability in general. However, there is a considerable shortage of empirical research on this topic and generally the evidence available does not confirm the positive linkage between unemployment and political instability. Many have considered unemployment to be an important factor also behind the so-called Arab Spring. This thesis aims to analyse more closely what role unemployment played in the spark of these uprisings. From a theoretical viewpoint, relative deprivation theory and opportunity-cost approach can link unemployment to political instability. On the other hand several factors, stigmatisation and lack of collective resources, for example, are theorised to hinder the mobilisation of the unemployed. The approach of this thesis is quantitative and its principal method is regression analysis. Most of the analyses are conducted using existent and extensive survey data sets, most notably the third wave of the Arab Barometer released in late 2014. In addition, the thesis explores descriptively data about the trends and patterns of the unemployment rates, protests, and organised violence. The study area of the thesis covers those Arab countries, where this data is available. Tunisia, Egypt, Libya, and Yemen are studied more closely. The key finding of the thesis is that an unemployed respondent has not taken part in the protests of the Arab Spring more likely than an employed respondent. Several alternative operationalisations confirm this finding. Survey data also suggest that unemployed people are less satisfied with their lives and politically less active compared to the employed. Further, satisfaction with life does not affect an individual's likelihood of protest attendance, but a higher interest in politics is a strong predictor of protest participation. As it seems that dissatisfaction does not turn to protesting, this might explain the low participation of the unemployed. This thesis finds scantly support that a higher unemployment rate would lead to a higher number of protests or a higher level of organised violence in the North African Arab countries. These results do not inevitably signify that unemployment was an irrelevant factor in the eruption of the Arab Spring uprisings. However, results suggest that unemployment was not a major driving force behind the Arab Spring. More generally, the outcome of this thesis together with earlier empirical research around the world suggests, that unemployment does not increase the likelihood of political instability as forcefully as it is often proposed.