Modeling Social Pressures Toward Political Instability

Peter Turchin
Cliodynamics June 1, 2013 Journal Link


Structural-demographictheory is a conceptual tool for understanding and explaining long-term social pressures that can lead to revolutions, civil wars, and other major outbreaks of socio-political instability. This articledevelopsa general modeling framework for quantifyingsuchstructuralpressures towardinstability. Following the basic premises of the structural-demographic theory, the approach adopted here decomposes pressures toward instability into three components, dealing with the general population, elites, and the state, respectively. Several feedback loops affecting the dynamics of these components are modeled explicitly, including the effect of labor oversupply on real wages and on elite overproduction. I apply the modeling framework to two empirical case studies :investigating structural-demographic dynamics during the nineteenth century (with a focus on the period preceding the American Civil War) and during the twentieth century (with a focus on the contemporary period).
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