Population pressure and the future of Saudi state stability
Kovalcik, Mark P.
Robinson, Glenn E.
Russell, James A.
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Political stability in Saudi Arabia is a key strategic concern of the United States and the international community. As the largest producer of oil in the world and the country with the greatest proven reserves of oil, Saudi Arabia will be a central player in the world's economic health for decades to come. However, Saudi Arabia is also characterized by one of the fastest growing population rates in the world, and its economic and political capacity to absorb such rapid population growth is not so clear. There is a growing body of literature that systematically links demographic growth and political instability, including revolutionary instability. This thesis draws on Goldstone's model to predict whether Saudi Arabia may be vulnerable to severe instability based on rapid demographic change. The Political Stress Indicator model consists of three conditions that must exist simultaneously for large-scale internal crises to occur; namely, fiscal crisis, elite dissent, and social mobilization. Our major finding is that the Saudi regime will likely be able to maintain political stability in the foreseeable future. While we conclude that Saudi Arabia will not face revolutionary instability in the foreseeable future, we caution that these problems are serious enough to closely monitor.
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