With all the talk about Kim Jong-un and nuclear weapons, another puzzle goes unanswered. North Korea is one of the world’s most miserable places to live and yet has experienced surprisingly little rebellion. Despite an annual GDP per capita of about $1,800 (197th in the world), an average life expectancy of 69 years (decreasing over time), sporadic electric power, and periodic famines North Korean citizens remain surprisingly quiescent. A quick and easy answer might be that the North Korean army is strong and could easily repress dissent — why rebel when you know the government will immediately crack down?
But many said the same about East Germany in the 1980s, Iran in the 1970s and late 2000s, and Libya, Syria, and Egypt before the Arab Spring. How does one know that the army will remain loyal to the government once people take to the streets?
So today’s puzzler is this: Given the level of deprivation in North Korea, why don’t citizens rebel?
Answer to last week’s puzzler:
Where have all the citations gone? On April 5th I posed the puzzle of the gender gap in citations in the IR literature. If you look at articles published in the top IR journals between 1980 and 2006, you find that those authored by women get significantly fewer citations than articles written by men. This is true even if you control for all the factors that could possibly affect citation counts.
In our article, Dan Maliniak, Ryan Powers and I surmised that two factors could account for this citation gap. First, women tend to cite themselves less than men. Second, men tend to cite other men (and women other women). Still, this didn’t account for all of the gap. I’m still not sure why the gap persists, but I have a few hunches. The first is that personal and professional networks matter a lot. People tend to read the work of scholars they know and with whom they are friends. Men are more apt to be friends with men, and women with women, and in a profession where a large majority of all scholars are men, this means that men will get a bump and women will not. So the gender make-up of the profession matters. The second has to do with gender stereotypes. A special issue of Nature (March 7, 2013) took a hard look at the gender gap in science, and discussed a 2012 study by Yale’s Jo Handelsman that showed that both male and female scientists had a pervasive bias against female scientists. In another study, Knobloch-Westerwick, Glynn, and Huge (2013) found that male and female scholars both believe that male researchers produce higher quality research than female researchers. What this suggests is that it’s not just men who are failing to give credit where credit is due, but that women are also failing to give themselves the credit they deserve. My guess is that this is the way both gendered have been socialized. But this is a puzzle in and of itself.