Brookings Mountain West presents "Frustrated Achievers: Using Happiness Surveys to Predict Public Frustration and Protest around the World" a talk by Carol Graham, who is the Leo Pasvolsky Senior Fellow, Global Economy and Development.
This lecture reviews a wide range of research based on surveys from around the world to better understand the underlying reasons for the recent wave of public protests around the world, in countries as diverse as Turkey, Russia, Brazil, Chile, and Middle East nations embroiled in the “Arab Spring.” A consistent pattern that runs throughout the data is the traits of the protestors: they are above the poverty line, they possess above average levels of education, they are closer to middle age than they are to their youth, and they are very skeptical about existing governance structures. Their character traits also fit those of the “frustrated achievers” that we have found in rapidly growing middle income countries such as China, Russia, and Peru. These frustrated achievers have made significant income gains and escaped poverty, but they express dissatisfaction with their economic situations and their lives. This “progress paradox” can help explain why protest and civil unrest break out at unpredictable moments and places in countries around the world.