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Unhappy Development: Dissatisfaction With Life on the Eve of the Arab Spring

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  • Efstratia Arampatzi
  • Martijn Burger
  • Elena Ianchovichina
  • Tina Röhricht
  • Ruut Veenhoven

Abstract

Despite progress with economic and social development over several decades, life satisfaction was relatively low and declining in many developing Arab countries in the second half of the 2000s—a situation described in this paper as the “unhappy development” paradox. The paper empirically tests the direction and strength of association of a range of objective and subjective factors with subjective well‐being in the Middle East and North Africa in the years immediately preceding the Arab Spring uprisings (2009–10). The findings suggest a significant, negative association between life satisfaction levels and each of the main perceived grievances voiced during the 2011 uprisings—dissatisfaction with the standard of living, poor labor market conditions, and corruption in the form of nepotism or cronyism. The increased prevalence of dissatisfaction with the standard of living contributed the most to the decline in subjective well‐being during this period, followed by worsening labor market conditions manifested in increased unemployment and decline in self‐reported earnings. In addition, perceptions about corruption became more important for people’s life satisfaction, particularly in the Arab Spring countries where the uprisings were most intense.

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  • Efstratia Arampatzi & Martijn Burger & Elena Ianchovichina & Tina Röhricht & Ruut Veenhoven, 2018. "Unhappy Development: Dissatisfaction With Life on the Eve of the Arab Spring," Review of Income and Wealth, International Association for Research in Income and Wealth, vol. 64(s1), pages 80-113, October.
  • Handle: RePEc:bla:revinw:v:64:y:2018:i:s1:p:s80-s113
    DOI: 10.1111/roiw.12388
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    2. O'Connor, Kelsey J., 2020. "The effect of immigration on natives’ well-being in the European Union," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 180(C), pages 257-274.
    3. Caroline T. Witte & Martijn J. Burger & Elena Ianchovichina, 2020. "Subjective Well‐Being and Peaceful Uprisings," Kyklos, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 73(1), pages 120-158, February.
    4. Raouf Boucekkine & Rodolphe Desbordes & Paolo Melindi-Ghidi, 2020. "Education, neopatrimonialism, and revolutions," AMSE Working Papers 2017, Aix-Marseille School of Economics, France.
    5. Kiendrebeogo,Youssouf & Ianchovichina,Elena & Kiendrebeogo,Youssouf & Ianchovichina,Elena, 2016. "Who supports violent extremism in developing countries ? analysis of attitudes based on value surveys," Policy Research Working Paper Series 7691, The World Bank.
    6. Sergio Pinto & Carol Graham, 2019. "Men without work: Why are they so unhappy in the US compared to other places?," Working Papers 2019-016, Human Capital and Economic Opportunity Working Group.
    7. Hannah C. Silver & Steven B. Caudill & Franklin G. Mixon Jr., 2017. "Human capital and life satisfaction in economic transition," The Economics of Transition, The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, vol. 25(2), pages 165-184, April.
    8. M. Hendriks & M. J. Burger, 2020. "Unsuccessful Subjective Well-Being Assimilation Among Immigrants: The Role of Faltering Perceptions of the Host Society," Journal of Happiness Studies, Springer, vol. 21(6), pages 1985-2006, August.
    9. Economic Policy Research Centre, 2015. "Dynamics of the War to Peace Transition in Northern Uganda," Occasional Papers 244091, Economic Policy Research Centre (EPRC).
    10. Caroline Krafft & Ragui Assaad, 2020. "Employment’s Role in Enabling and Constraining Marriage in the Middle East and North Africa," Demography, Springer;Population Association of America (PAA), vol. 57(6), pages 2297-2325, December.
    11. Caroline Krafft & Elizabeth E. Davis, 2021. "The Arab inequality puzzle: the role of income sources in Egypt and Tunisia," Middle East Development Journal, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 13(1), pages 1-26, January.
    12. Paasonen Kari, 2020. "Are the unhappy unemployed to blame for unrest? Scrutinising participation in the Arab Spring uprisings," Peace Economics, Peace Science, and Public Policy, De Gruyter, vol. 26(1), pages 1-21, February.
    13. Elena Ianchovichina & Lili Mottaghi & Shantayanan Devarajan, 2015. "Middle East and North Africa Economic Monitor, October 2015," World Bank Other Operational Studies, The World Bank, number 22711.
    14. Kamal Kasmaoui, 2020. "What makes Moroccans happy: A micro-data study," Working Papers hal-02956855, HAL.
    15. O'Connor, Kelsey J. & Graham, Carol, 2019. "Longer, more optimistic, lives: Historic optimism and life expectancy in the United States," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 168(C), pages 374-392.
    16. Livani, Talajeh & Graham, Carol, 2019. "Do social protection programs improve life satisfaction? Evidence from Iraq," World Development Perspectives, Elsevier, vol. 16(C).
    17. Kelsey J. O'Connor, 2020. "Life Satisfaction and Noncognitive Skills: Effects on the Likelihood of Unemployment," Kyklos, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 73(4), pages 568-604, November.
    18. Zahraa Barakat & Ali Fakih, 2021. "Determinants of the Arab Spring Protests in Tunisia, Egypt, and Libya: What Have We Learned?," Social Sciences, MDPI, Open Access Journal, vol. 10(8), pages 1-15, July.

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