Richard Florida, author of the bestseller The Rise of the Creative Class pulled together eight key statistics from 152 nations — human capital levels in combination with percent of the workforce in the creative class, life satisfaction, GDP per capita, perceptions about local labor market conditions, Internet access, freedom, tolerance, and honesty in elections — to come up with what he calls the Index of Potential Unrest (IPU). The goal of this exercise was to see if data can be used to predict political revolutions.
Here’s what he found: “The IPU does reasonably well in predicting the unrest and revolutionary activism that are spreading across the Middle East today. Among the highest-scorers are the West Bank/Gaza Strip (.75), Yemen (.75), Egypt (.74), and Iraq (.72). Seven more Middle Eastern and North African nations have relatively high IPU scores: Morocco (.68), Lebanon (.64), Syria (.61), Jordan (.61), Algeria (.6), Tunisia (.57), and Libya (.51), while Saudi Arabia (.4) and Bahrain (.4) show more moderate levels. On the other hand, Kuwait (.23), Qatar (.22), and the United Arab Emirates (.21) score in the same range as Luxemburg, Hong Kong, Singapore and Canada. Obviously this metric is not infallible–things are much less stable in Bahrain than its moderate score (.4) would suggest; Libya’s score fails to reflect the outsized role of its insane dictator. That said, it’s interesting to note that the real powder kegs are not even in the Middle East. The nation with the highest ranking on the IPU is Togo (.93), followed by Mongolia (0.83), Armenia (.81), Haiti (.8), and the Ukraine (.79). China’s IPU score of .51 is on par with Libya’s.”