Purpose – As with many rapidly growing developing nations that suffer from inequity and political oppression, popular rebellion has long been likely in Egypt. As uprisings burgeoned in 2008 and it became especially evident that a popular revolution was imminent, which made it crucial to detect the root causes of Egyptians' discontent. The purpose of this paper is two fold: to identify the main sources of socioeconomic predicaments of the economically deprived members of the Egyptian society, and to build a composite indicator of poverty (CIP) based on their preferences to act as a national benchmark for poverty alleviation. Design/methodology/approach – A questionnaire was administered shortly before the eruption of the Egyptian Revolution. A series of regression models were run to uncover what Egyptians perceive to be the causes of poverty. Finally, a CIP was built to rank societal welfare preferences. The research culminates below in a proposed reform framework. Findings – The results of the CIP reveal that poverty was reduced to a reasonable degree, albeit that the deprivation of basic commodities and services increased popular discontent. The lowest socioeconomic groups blame poverty on structural fragility and the inefficacy of government policies, while middle‐income groups attribute poverty to personal incompetence. This legitimises the exclusive provision of social safety nets to lower income groups. Originality/value – By building a community‐based composite poverty index, this research pioneers a country‐specific CIP benchmark to measure advances in poverty alleviation according to the perceptions of the society. It could prove useful for developing nations encountering similar problems and impending mass rebellions.
International Journal of Social Economics – Emerald Publishing
Published: Dec 16, 2011
Keywords: Egypt; Poverty; Social problems; Developing countries; Poverty alleviation; Equity; Human development
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