Life Begins After 25: Demography and the Societal Timing of the Arab Spring

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Read “Life Begins after 25: Demography and the Societal Timing of the Arab Spring” by Richard Cincotta, published by the Foreign Policy Research Institute, January 2012.

Writing in Foreign Affairs, political scientist Gregory Gausse recounts how regional specialists, like himself, overestimated the strength and cohesiveness of North Africa’s autocracies, as well as the depth of personal allegiances available to these authoritarians among their military’s highest ranks. Little, if any, mention has been made, however, of an article describing the relationship between demography and democracy (“How Democracies Grow Up”) that was printed on the pages of Foreign Policy in March of 2008—more than two-and-a-half years before pro-democracy demonstrators took to the streets in Tunisia—nor of an article published by the Woodrow Wilson Center (“Half a Chance“), published in early 2009. In those essays, I describe a simple model driven by population age structure (the distribution of population by age) that can be used to statistically forecast democratization, with reasonable success.