Posted by shiite on Thursday, February 3, 2011
The so-called Jasmine Revolution in Tunisia caught everyone by surprise - its former ruler France, the U.S., and the world at large.
Is it true that diplomats and intelligence agencies often (or only) tell ministers what they want to hear?
What role has the controversial WikiLeaks had on the current Arab revolution?
What effect will the Tunisian experience have on Morocco? Is Morocco an exception to the rule? What country will be the next domino to fall?
Some argue that WikiLeaks had a role in Ben Ali's downfall. Just today, a Norwegian politician has nominated WikiLeaks for the Nobel Peace Prize.
For decades, the U.S. has long had a policy of turning a blind eye to internal repression and stagnation, supporting undemocratic regimes (e.g. Saddam Hussein and Manuel Noriega both once had U.S. support before becoming foes) as a trade-off for (seeming) stability, or to maintain its own geopolitical interests and "prevent geographically important regions from falling under the sway of regimes subservient to the Soviet Union."
So is it true that America has a dictator addiction?
The U.S. media has been walking a delicate tightrope in all this (and government; here's VP Joe Biden timidly proclaiming Mubarak not a dictator).
In Tunisia, some leaked cables show that the U.S. government was well aware of the extent of corruption and opulence of the Ben Ali regime.
One of the reasons Tunisia was arguably so surprising was that on paper, everything seemed hunky-dory (or at the very least, not-desperate-for-a-revolution). Tunisians are relatively rich for its region and well-educated.
However, despite all that this Gallup poll demonstrates that both Egyptians and Tunisians have reported declining wellbeing, despite GDP gains:
This analysis seems to indicate that money alone does not buy happiness (err..."thrivingness").
For example, in happiness economics, some say that happiness is correlated with income strongly, but only up to $15,000 per capita, while others, like USC Professor Richard Easterlin, say that for countries with income sufficient to meet basic needs, levels of happiness do not vary much with with income per person.
A general counterpoint to the Easterlin paradox:
However, economists and scientists have studied this issue in many realms and with much more sophistication and rigor.
Let's take a look at the "Satisfaction with Life Index", developed by Adrian White, a social psychologist. It is an attempt to show general life satisfaction.
In his studies, he found that life satisfaction correlated most strongly with health (0.7), then wealth (0.6) and access to education (0.6).
Here is his map of life satisfaction around the world:
In this map, you can clearly see that Moroccans have a higher "Life Satisfaction" than Egyptians, but lower than Tunisians. According to the CIA World Factbook, the average GDP per capita of Tunisia is $9,500, Egypt is $6,200, and Morocco is $4,900. According to the World Bank (2009), the average Tunisian makes $8,284 a year, Egyptian $5,680, and Moroccan $4,503 (see here).
If we take the average of these two, this makes Tunisians about 1.89 times richer than Moroccans and Egyptians about 1.26 times richer than Moroccans.
And yet, in Satisfaction with Life Index, Egyptians are ranked 151st out of 178 countries, while Moroccans are ranked 114th, and Tunisians 79th.
According to this analysis then, Moroccans are more satisfied with life than Egyptians, and have about the same level of life satisfaction as those in Peru, Kenya, Lebanon, and Ecuador.
Now let's look at the "Quality of Life Index", developed by The Economist Intelligence Unit. This index is meant to be a measure of quality of life, and incorporates indices such as life expectancy, divorce rate, community life, material wellbeing, political stability and security, climate and geography, unemployment rate, political freedom, and gender equality.
Here is the world map of "Quality of Life Index":
In this map, you can clearly see that Morocco has a higher "Quality of Life" than both Tunisia and Egypt. In fact, if you look at all of the African countries analyzed, Morocco has the highest "quality of life" in all of Africa (see light green!).
According to this Qualify of Life analysis, out of 111 countries analyzed, Morocco ranks 65th, while Egypt comes in at 80th, and Tunisia ranks 83rd.
Interestingly, according to this analysis, Moroccans have a higher quality of life than the United Arab Emirates (despite being a whopping 8.2 times richer), Saudi Arabia (despite being about 4.94 times richer), Jordan (despite being about 1.1 times richer), Albania (despite being about 1.83 times richer), Iran (despite being about 2.3 times richer), and South Africa (despite being about 2.2 times richer).
According to this analysis, Moroccans have about the same quality of life as those in Jamaica, Lithuania, Bahrain, Vietnam, and China.
Lastly, let's take a look at the Legatum Prosperity Index, based on 79 different variables in 9 sectors: economic fundamentals, democratic institutions, health, governance, social capital, entrepreneurship and innovation, education, safety and security, and personal freedom. It is meant to be a marker of wealth and wellbeing and is based on the "foundations of prosperity" and the "factors that drive economic growth and produce happy citizens over the long term".
Here is the final results for all 110 countries analyzed (Morocco is 62nd):
According to this analysis, Morocco is more "prosperous" than Egypt, but less prosperous than Tunisia.
Morocco has about the same level of "prosperity" as Vietnam, Russia, the Philippines, Columbia, and South Africa.
Here is a look at the results of Morocco:
The strongest aspects of Morocco are its economy and social capital, while is weakest are its education and personal freedom:
Morocco's economy is ranked 35th best out of 110 countries:
And Morocco has the 13th most "social capital" out of 110 countries, with an extremely high level of trust in others (58.5% find others trustworthy; in the U.S., this number is 37.1%):
Let's compare Morocco to some other countries, like Tunisia and Egypt, among others.
Morocco vs. the US:
So you can see that Moroccans believe society is more meritocratic than the U.S., feel about the same level of personal safety, and are more trusting of others than Americans.
Morocco vs. Tunisia:
So you can see that Freedom House considers Morocco more free than Tunisia, while Moroccans are about 4.1 times more trusting of others than Tunisians.
If we compare all of the country attributes:
Then we can see that Morocco has a stronger economy than Tunisia and more social capital, but is outmatched in all other aspects.
Morocco vs. Egypt:
As you can see, Morocco is considered more free than Egypt, and Moroccans feel their society is more meritocratic than Egyptians and are about 3.2 times more trusting of their fellow citizens than Egyptians.
Comparing the overall countries:
By this analysis, you can see Morocco has a much better economy than Egypt, has better governance, and way more social capital.
Finally, let's do a couple more country comparisons.
Morocco vs. Jordan, the only other Middle East/North Africa that Peace Corps goes to:
As you can see, Jordan has much better education and health, slightly better governance, but fares much worse in terms of social capital and the economy.
Morocco vs. its rival and neighbor, Algeria:
As you can see, Morocco has better governance, social capital, economy, and entrepreneurship, but worse education.
Morocco vs. Lebanon:
As you can see, Lebanon has more personal freedom and better education, but is bettered in all other categories.
And just for fun...Morocco vs. China:
As you can see, China has a slightly better economy and more innovation, but less safety and security and social capital.
Now wasn't that fun? (cough...NERD ALERT).
Tags: egypt morocco tunisia algeria jordan nerdy research
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