The growing muzzled young population, the lack of political participation and oppression, the widening wealth disparities, the dearth in economic opportunities, and the ubiquitous corruption are all factors that instill simmering resentment. As discontent festered, fury gave way to a historical change. The factors that triggered the rage seemed to echo in other countries in the region as well. The core problems and the economic woes plaguing Tunisia are common to about every country. The similar malaise is precisely why the events are resonating so widely in the area.

The evidence that other Arab countries suffer the Tunisian syndrome is shown in the following table. The table presents some indicators on democracy, corruption, life satisfaction, population age composition, unemployment, and income inequality. These data are for selected Arab countries, along with Tunisia.

Corruption Perceptions Index[1]Democracy Index[2]Political Instability Index[3]Overall Life Satisfaction[4]Median Age[5]Unemployment Rate[6]Gini Coefficient[7]
Jordan (50,4.7)Morocco (116,3.79)Sudan (4,8.0)Yemen (4.8)Yemen (17.8)Saudi Arabia (5.2%)Egypt (32.1)
Saudi Arabia (50,4.7)Jordan (117,3.74)Algeria (61,6.6)Sudan (5.0)Sudan (20.3)Egypt (11.0%)Algeria (35.3)
Tunisia (59,4.3)Algeria (125,3.44)Yemen (79,6.1)Algeria (5.6)Syria (22.5)Morocco (11.0%)Jordan (37.7)
Morocco (85,3.4)Egypt (138,3.07)Saudi Arabia (83,6.1)Morocco (85,3.4)Jordan (22.8)Yemen (11.5%)Yemen (37.7)
Egypt (98,3.1)Tunisia (144,2.79)Syria (94,5.8)Egypt (5.8)Egypt (23.9)Syria (11.7%)Tunisia (40.8)
Algeria (105,2.9)Yemen (146,2.64)Morocco (98,5.6)Morocco (5.8)Saudi Arabia (24.6)Tunisia (14.2%)Morocco (40.9)
Syria (127,2.5)Sudan (151,2.42)Egypt (106,5.4)Syria (5.9)Morocco (26.2)Algeria (15.3%)Libya (NA)
Libya (146,2.2)Syria (152,2.31)Jordan (106,5.4)Tunisia (5.9)Algeria (26.2)Jordan (NA)Syria (NA)
Yemen (146,2.2)Libya (158,1.94)Tunisia (134,4.6)Saudi Arabia (7.7)Libya (26.2)Libya(NA)Sudan(NA)
Sudan (175,1.6)Saudi Arabia (160,1.84)Libya (137,4.3)Libya (NA)Tunisia (29.1)Sudan (NA)Saudi Arabia (NA)

The indicators show unequivocal evidence that these countries are highly corrupt, lack democracy, are highly unstable, have a largely young population, have a high level of unemployment, a high level of income inequality, and a low level of life satisfaction. These indicators also show that, out of the ten selected countries, Tunisia is the eighth most corrupt, the fifth most democratic, the ninth most unstable, the eighth in life satisfaction, the second in unemployment, and the fifth in income inequality. That provides evidence that not only are Arab countries suffering from the Tunisian syndrome, but most of them experience worse circumstances than Tunisia. This leads us to conclude that the question on the likelihood of the domino effect is not one of “whether?” but rather of “when and how?” These countries could even experience an upheaval far more shattering than that of Tunisia. However, for all the aforementioned distinctive features of Tunisia, it will probably take longer in the other countries for wishes or expectations to culminate into reality.

Notes

[1] Source: Transparency International. The data (rank,index) are for 2010. Countries are ordered from the least corrupt to the most.

[2] Source: The Economist. The data (rank,index) are for 2010. Countries are ordered from the most democratic to the least.

[3] Source: The Economist. The data (rank,index) are for 2009-2010. Countries are ordered from the most unstable to the least.

[4] Source: Human Development Report 2010. The data are for 2009 are 0: least satisfied, 10: most satisfied.

[5] Source: Human Development Report 2010.

[6] Source: Human Development Report 2007-2008.

[7] Source: Human Development Report 2010. Countries are ordered from the least unequal to the most.