The Poverty of Dictatorship

If Tunisia’s Zine El Abidine Ben Ali or Egypt's Hosni Mubarak were hoping for political popularity as a reward for economic gains, they must have been sorely disappointed. Their people have just sent a sobering message to China and other authoritarian regimes around the world: don’t count on economic progress to keep you in power forever.

CAMBRIDGE – Perhaps the most striking finding in the United Nations’ recent 20th anniversary Human Development Report is the outstanding performance of the Muslim countries of the Middle East and North Africa. Here was Tunisia, ranked sixth among 135 countries in terms of improvement in its Human Development Index (HDI) over the previous four decades, ahead of Malaysia, Hong Kong, Mexico, and India. Not far behind was Egypt, ranked 14th.