Measuring Social Unrest Using Media Reports

Author/Editor:

Philip Barrett ; Maximiliano Appendino ; Kate Nguyen ; Jorge de Leon Miranda

Publication Date:

July 17, 2020

Electronic Access:

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Disclaimer: IMF Working Papers describe research in progress by the author(s) and are published to elicit comments and to encourage debate. The views expressed in IMF Working Papers are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily represent the views of the IMF, its Executive Board, or IMF management.

Summary:

We present a new index of social unrest based on counts of relevant media reports. The index consists of individual monthly time series for 130 countries, available with almost no lag, and can be easily and transparently replicated. Spikes in the index identify major events, which correspond very closely to event timelines from external sources for four major regional waves of social unrest. We show that the cross-sectional distribution of the index can be simply and precisely characterized, and that social unrest is associated with a 3 percentage point increase in the frequency of social unrest domestically and a 1 percent increase in neighbors in the next six months. Despite this, social unrest is not a better predictor of future social unrest than the country average rate.

Series:

Working Paper No. 20/129

Subject:

Frequency:

regular

English

Publication Date:

July 17, 2020

ISBN/ISSN:

9781513550275/1018-5941

Stock No:

WPIEA2020129

Format:

Paper

Pages:

87

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