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February 09, 2011

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Noaman Ali

I don't necessarily disagree with your conclusion -- that people can be dissatisfied with political authority regardless of economic performance -- but your premises are wrong.

In both Egypt and Tunisia, there are questions of widespread unemployment, especially amongst youth, coupled with skyrocketing inflation. Wages are not keeping up with costs of living.

In Egypt, particularly, poverty is significant. Official figures peg it at around 20%, but by unofficial counts it is much higher. What's key to note is that the percentage of people in poverty has grown concurrently with economic growth.

Moreover, a lot of people on the ground in Cairo and Tunis -- and, let's not forget, the rest of Egypt and Tunisia -- do have very concrete economic demands that, in some cases, precede political demands. This may not be the majority of demonstrators, but no one pretends to speak for all of them anyway.

In sum, while some of the indicators you point to demonstrate that, on some scores, the welfare state of North African authoritarianism has chugged along like an old, deteriorating engine -- you'd probably find that school attendance in both countries was relatively high before their economic growth periods anyway -- on the whole, the benefits of economic growth, whatever that means, have not been distributed widely in Egypt and Tunisia.

Mirrorsignalmove.blogspot.com

"In both Egypt and Tunisia, there are questions of widespread unemployment, especially amongst youth, coupled with skyrocketing inflation. Wages are not keeping up with costs of living."

Exactly what I was going to say. For you, a professional academic, to get such important and easily checked facts wrong Mr Rodrik, is a disgrace - and if you cannot be bothered to do such elementary fact checking, then you have no rightful business having your articles published in the world's press.

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