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The Great Recession, Inequality and Occupy Protests around the World

  • Alper H. Yagci
Abstract

Established wisdom is sceptical of direct linkages between economic hardship and contentious mobilization. Occupy protests seem to constitute an anomaly in this regard by their very existence, but factors associated with these events have not been investigated yet. This study of 398 self-designated Occupy protests across 180 countries finds that the country’s level of inequality was associated with a higher rate of protest. Equally important were the severity of the downturn in GDP growth in 2007–11 and the level of democracy. The results offer some evidence for the ‘inverse J-curve’ hypothesis whereby an economic boom period followed by a downturn is conducive to protest. Few studies have previously investigated the influence of inequality and economic growth on political protest across a diverse set of countries going beyond OECD democracies. The applicability of these findings to protest events more generally needs to be corroborated and discussed in future work.

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Alper H. Yagci is a PhD candidate in Political Science at the University of Massachusetts Amherst and a GLODEM visitor at Koc University, Istanbul. Contact email: ayagci@polsci.umass.edu.

Footnotes
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