Income Growth and Revolutions

Peer-reviewed Journal Article

Knutsen, Carl Henrik (2014) Income Growth and Revolutions, Social Science Quarterly 95(4): 920–937.


This article investigates whether economic growth and income level affect revolution attempts and successful revolutions.


The article conducts a statistical analysis, mainly using panel data logit models, on a data set including 150 countries with time series from 1919 to 2003.


Low short-term growth increases probabilities of both attempted and successful revolutions. There is some evidence that higher income levels mitigate revolution attempts, but this is not robust and further analysis indicates that any association may stem from oil income more specifically. There is no net effect of income level on successful revolution, but high income seemingly reduces probability of successful revolution more in democracies than in dictatorships. Although revolutions occur more frequently after “J curves” and “decremental deprivation patterns,” this is largely due to economic crises and not the more complex growth patterns as hypothesized by, respectively, Davies and Gurr.


Low short-term economic growth induces revolutions, whereas the impact of income level is less clear and seemingly contingent on factors such as regime type and source of income.

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