The Political Economics of the Arab Spring

19 Pages Posted: 14 Dec 2012

Date Written: November 13, 2012


The Arab Spring has led to very different outcomes across the Arab world. I present a highly stylized model of the Arab Spring to better understand these differences. In this model, dictators from the ethnic or religious majority group concede power if their country is oil-poor, but can stay in power by bribing the people if their country is oil-rich. Dictators from the minority group often rely on other members of their group to repress protests and to fight the majority group if necessary. These predictions are consistent with observed outcomes in Egypt, Libya, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Tunisia, and elsewhere.

Keywords: Arab Spring, political transitions, repression, civil conflict, oil, divided societies

JEL Classification: D72, D74

Suggested Citation

Hodler, Roland, The Political Economics of the Arab Spring (November 13, 2012). CESifo Working Paper Series No. 4023. Available at SSRN:

Roland Hodler (Contact Author)

University of Melbourne ( email )

185 Pelham Street
Carlton, Victoria 3053

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