Tuesday, August 09, 2011

Do Budget Cuts and Riots Go Together?

I saw this paper 'Austerity and Anarchy: Budget Cuts and Social Unrest in Europe, 1919-2009'
with the intro
'In the wake of this week's London riots, some commentators have linked the youth unrest to budget cuts. The authors of CEPR DP8513 explore the historical basis for this view and finds that austerity and violence have tended to go hand in hand.'

I am reading through the paper now. But I wonder if there was an image that could quickly show a connection between the two.

Wikipedia lists the riots since 1950 as

1958 Notting Hill race riots
1970 Garden House riot
1971 Priestlley riots
1975 Chapeltown race riot
1977 Battle of Lewisham
1980 St. Pauls riot
1981 England riots · Brixton riot · Chapeltown race riot · Toxteth riots · Moss Side riot · Handsworth race riots
1985 Brixton riot · Broadwater Farm riot
1987 Chapeltown race riot
1989 Dewsbury race riot
1990 Strangeways Prison riot · Poll Tax riots
1991 Meadow Well riots
1995 Manningham riot · Brixton riot
2001 Bradford riots · England riots · Oldham race riots · Harehills riot
2005 Birmingham race riots
2010 UK student protests
2011 London riots

Now if you look at the government spending as a percentage of GDP here. On top of this graph I put a bar for every riot each year one occurred.

Counting all riots as the same is not fair. Their graph goes from 34->48 whereas the riots go from 0->6. Laying the first on the second is not considered good practice in data visualisation. Also and this is a big one. If GDP drops as in a recession and the percentage of government spending to GDP stays the same total government spending will drop. a fairer graph would look at gdp or government spending adjusted compared to riots not the two combined.

The proper paper says rioting and austerity go hand in hand. I will read it carefully to see how close the link is. But a quick look at the data and no obvious major link jumps out at me.

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