Social Unrest During Epidemics

A recent study revealed that areas visited by epidemics show a 21 percent increase in their likelihood of seeing a social unrest event (i.e. a riot or protest) and a 57 percent increase in their likelihood of seeing two social unrest events. As COVID-19 spread across the globe, the study’s authors, Rebecca Cordell (assistant professor at the University of Texas at Dallas), Thorin Wright (associate professor at Arizona State University), and Reed Wood (reader at the University of Essex), followed the trail of social upheaval it left in its wake. In looking through historical examples of outbreaks, such as the cholera, Ebola, and influenza epidemics, they identified similar patterns. Interested, they decided to interrogate the link statistically, using data collected on 48 African countries from 1990 to 2017. The data comes from the Social Conflict Analysis Database (SCAD) and the Center for Research on the Epidemiology of Disasters.


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