When Prosperity Leads to Disaffection

Evidence From Pakistan

A boy carries his sibling in a slum on the outskirts of Lahore, January 2015. Zohra Bensemra / Reuters

The outcome of the 2016 U.S. presidential election made it clear: many experts had missed something big. Polls in the run-up to election day had indicated that, although Trump’s narrative of “forgotten men and women” resonated with some Americans, the majority would be swayed instead by broadly positive macroeconomic indicators, including growing GDP, falling unemployment, and rising consumer confidence. However, all these predictions were for naught: Trump rode a wave of anger with the status quo to a surprising victory.

The conundrum of broad disaffection in the face of apparent prosperity is by no means limited to American politics. Thousands of miles from Washington, we tested a related hypothesis in rural Pakistan. We conducted face-to-face surveys with over 1,500 people and found that individuals expressed the strongest dissatisfaction with their government when they met three criteria: they had high expectations for themselves in the future, witnessed mobility around them, and

Loading, please wait...

To read the full article

Related Articles

This site uses cookies to improve your user experience. Click here to learn more.