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

34 Pages Posted: 26 Oct 2018

See all articles by Efstratia Arampatzi

Efstratia Arampatzi

Erasmus University Rotterdam (EUR)

Martijn Burger

Erasmus University Rotterdam (EUR) - Erasmus Happiness Economics Research Organization (EHERO)

Elena Ianchovichina

World Bank

Tina Röhricht

Erasmus University Rotterdam (EUR) - Erasmus Happiness Economics Research Organization (EHERO)

Ruut Veenhoven

Erasmus University Rotterdam (EUR) - Erasmus Happiness Economics Research Organization (EHERO)

Date Written: October 2018

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.

Keywords: Arab countries, Arab Spring uprisings, Middle East and North Africa, standard of living, subjective well‐being

Suggested Citation

Arampatzi, Efstratia and Burger, Martijn and Ianchovichina, Elena and Röhricht, Tina and Veenhoven, Ruut, Unhappy Development: Dissatisfaction with Life on the Eve of the Arab Spring (October 2018). Review of Income and Wealth, Vol. 64, pp. S80-S113, 2018. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3273052 or http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/roiw.12388

Efstratia Arampatzi (Contact Author)

Erasmus University Rotterdam (EUR) ( email )

Burgemeester Oudlaan 50
3000 DR Rotterdam, Zuid-Holland 3062PA
Netherlands

Martijn Burger

Erasmus University Rotterdam (EUR) - Erasmus Happiness Economics Research Organization (EHERO) ( email )

P.O. Box 1738
Rotterdam, 3000
Netherlands

Elena Ianchovichina

World Bank ( email )

1818 H. Street, N.W.
MSN3-311
Washington, DC 20433
United States
202-458-8910 (Phone)
202-522-1159 (Fax)

Tina Röhricht

Erasmus University Rotterdam (EUR) - Erasmus Happiness Economics Research Organization (EHERO) ( email )

P.O. Box 1738
Rotterdam, 3000
Netherlands

Ruut Veenhoven

Erasmus University Rotterdam (EUR) - Erasmus Happiness Economics Research Organization (EHERO) ( email )

P.O. Box 1738
Rotterdam, 3000
Netherlands

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