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The Role of Freedom, Growth and Religion in the Taste for Revolution

  • Economics
  • Political Science


A fundamental issue for economists is what determines civil conflict. One unsettled question is the relative importance of political freedoms versus economic development. This paper takes a new approach to provide an answer by using micro-data based on surveys of revolutionary preferences of 130,000 people living in 61 nations between 1980 and 1997. Controlling for personal characteristics, country and year fixed effects, more freedom and economic growth both reduce revolutionary support. Losing one level of freedom, equivalent to a shift from the US to Turkey, increases support for revolt by 4 percentage points. To reduce support by the same amount requires adding 14 percentage points on to the GDP growth rate. Being Muslim in a free country has no effect on the probability of supporting revolt compared to a non-religious person. However, being Muslim in a country that is not free increases it by 13 percentage points. Being Christian in a free country decreases the chance of supporting revolt by 4 percentage points, compared to a non-religious person, and in a not-free country by 1 percentage point.

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