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Oil painting Tragic Prelude by J.S. Curry Structural-demographic causes of political instability.

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Presentation on theme: "Oil painting Tragic Prelude by J.S. Curry Structural-demographic causes of political instability."— Presentation transcript:

1 Oil painting Tragic Prelude by J.S. Curry Structural-demographic causes of political instability

2 Obama Faults Spy Agencies Performance in Gauging Mideast Unrest, Officials Say By Mark MazzettiMark Mazzetti Published: February 4, 2011

3 Rebellions and Revolutions Causes of such outbreaks of political instability may be separated into: Structural conditions –build up slowly and somewhat predictably –amenable to analysis and forecasting Triggering events –very hard, perhaps impossible to predict –example: self-immolation of the fruit vendor that triggered Tunisian revolution Focus on: structural conditions

4 Structural-demographic causes of political instability Popular immiseration and discontent Elite overproduction State fiscal distress

5 1.Introduction: The Theoretical Background 2.Medieval England: The Plantagenet Cycle (1150-1485) 3.Early Modern England: The Tudor-Stuart Cycle (1485-1730) 4.Medieval France: The Capetian Cycle (1150-1450) 5.Early Modern France: The Valois Cycle (1450-1660) 6.Rome: The Republican Cycle (350- 30 BCE) 7.Rome: The Principate Cycle (30 BCE-285 CE) 8.Russia: The Muscovy Cycle (1460- 1620) 9.Russia: The Romanov Cycle (1620- 1922) 10.General Conclusions

6 Plan of the talk The dynamics of structural- demographic variables in the U.S., 1780– 2010 –demography and well-being –elite dynamics –socio-political instability Modeling the Antebellum Period Lessons for today?

7 General principles from the structural-demographic theory: I. Well-Being Excessive supply of labor drives down its price –consequence: falling living standards for the commoner (nonelite) population, popular immiseration and discontent

8 Immigration: a major driver of labor oversupply


10 Measuring Well-Being Economic measures –real wages problematic for XIX c. because of rapidly evolving basket of consumables –wages in relation to GDP per capita an index of the share of GDP going to workers Biological measures –population stature (average heights) –average expectation of life



13 Note: stature is plotted by year when reaching age=10

14 This 1888 cartoon in Puck attacks businessmen for welcoming large numbers of low-paid immigrants, leaving the American workingman unemployed

15 Demography and Well-Being: summary 1780–1830 –low immigration –GDP share to workers rising –increasing stature –increasing life expectation 1830–1920 –high immigration –GDP share to workers falling (to 1910) –declining stature (to 1900) –declining life expectation (to 1890)

16 The Antebellum Model Purpose: to test the logical coherence of the argument not an empirical test, because data are used in model construction a descriptive, rather than predictive model The population component Rural population = growth – migration Urban population = growth + migration

17 The Antebellum Model, cont. Labor dynamics: Demand for labor: D = growth at 3% p.a. Wage/GDP Index: W = (D/U) β



20 General principles, cont. (elites) Low price of labor means not only immiseration of a large segment of population, but also enrichment of those who consume labor – the elites and elite aspirants –elite numbers (and appetites) grow –high rate of upward social mobility

21 The Antebellum Model, cont. Elite dynamics: Upward mobility: µ = µ 0 (W -1 – 1) Elite numbers = pop. growth + µ W: Wage/GDP Index


23 Estimated numbers (and proportion of population) of adult American males with wealth $10,000 or greater yearnn% 185085,0001.7 1860220,0003.1 1870365,0004.2

24 General principles, cont. Growing elite numbers and appetites eventually overshoot the productive base –large segments of the elites find themselves lacking resources to maintain status Since the number of power positions is limited, segments of elites/elite aspirants must be denied access to them Rise of the counterelites: surplus elites must challenge the established elites, even by violent means As a result, elite overproduction drives up sociopolitical instability



27 Intraelite conflict 1856. Rep. Preston Brooks beating sen. Charles Sumner with a cane

28 General principles, cont. Popular immiseration and elite overproduction drive increasing sociopolitical instability

29 III. Instability Political Instability Event: lethal group- level conflict within a state Database: compiled from historical sources and compu- terized searches of newspapers



32 Components of instability: The Urban Riots ~1000 people were killed in riots between 1840 and 1860

33 183821Missouri Mormon War (Haun's Mill massacre, Battle of Crooked River) 1844-52Mormon War in Illinois and the Mormon Exodus 1857120Utah Mormon War (Mountain Meadows massacre) Prelude to the Civil War: A War of Religion

34 1858. Kansas. Marais des Cygnes massacre Components of instability: Sectional violence 18551KSWakarusa War (Bleeding Kansas) 18565KSPottawatomie Massacre (Bleeding Kansas) 18565KSBattle of Osawatomie (Bleeding Kansas) 18585KSMarais des Cygnes Massacre (Bleeding Kansas) 18596VAHarpers Ferry Raid (John Brown)


36 The Puzzle of the American Civil War There is no concensus among historians about the causes of the Civil War The role of slavery still debated Why did the democratic process fail? Structural-demographic theory: the key role of the elites

37 The American Civil War: the demographic-structural view Established elites: southern slaveowners, supported by northern seaboard merchants Counterelites: the capitalists (railroads, manufactures, mining, etc) Outcome: a social revolution –the antebellum ruling class destroyed – replaced with the new Upper Class of northern bourgeoisie manufacturers, bankers, wholesalers, corporate lawyers, top professionals, etc

38 The Slave Power The southern domination of national politics, 1789-1861 12 out of 18 presidential terms –plus northern doughfaces such as Franklin Pierce, James Buchanan, etc >50% of the top government posts –51% under John Adams, 56% under Jefferson, 57% under Jackson Control of the Senate (but not the House) –aided by northern doughfaces 57% of Supreme Court Justices and economic power: 70% of the wealthiest Americans in 1860 In 1850 there were 300,000 slave owners out of the total population of 20 mln.

39 The American Civil War: (1861-1865) not an isolated failure of policy but a culmination of demographic- structural trends during 1840s and 1850s: –popular immiseration –elite overproduction –elite fragmentation and conflict –increasingly lethal political violence

40 Lessons for Today? Elite overproduction was a common predictor of instability waves in all historical case studies examined in Secular Cycles

41 Overproduction of youths with advanced degrees Appears to be an excellent proxy for elite overproduction in the modern world It is statistically associated with revolutionary situations, e.g. –revolutions of 1848-49 –USSR collapse in 1991

42 Egypt: proportion of the cohort aged 20-29 with tertiary education (World Bank data)

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