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ALM Special

Iran's economic woes persist a year on Mahsa Amini protests

Inflation and unemployment rates remain high, which could contribute to a renewed burst of demonstrations.
A man browses a phone while sitting next to a motorcycle along a street in Tehran on September 10, 2023. Iranian authorities have blocked popular social media networks, including Instagram and WhatsApp since mass protests erupted following the September 2022 death in police custody of 22-year-old Iranian Kurd Mahsa Amini. The restrictions come as millions of Iranians struggle to make ends meet, grappling with in an economic crisis marked by crippling Western sanctions, a galloping inflation, and sharp decli

In September 2022, the massive “Woman, Life, Freedom" protests began in Iran. However, beyond the movement's primary slogan, the eruption of social discontent one year ago was significantly fueled by the economic deficiencies  stemming from widespread corruption and incompetence.

Davoud Souri, an economist at Saman Bank in Tehran, said in October 2022, "Economic dissatisfaction has a huge contribution" to the discontent in Iranian society. "Naturally, accumulated economic alienation has a significant impact on the strength and eruption of protests.”

Economic indicators could help predict whether a new wave of unrest will emerge on the anniversary of last year’s protests. The below comparison of key economic indicators is based on the latest report published by the Statistical Center of Iran in August 2023. (There is no new data on some other indicators, such as the distribution of income and the Gini Index.)

Ever since 2018, annual inflation figures have remained above 30%. Inflationary trends continued unabated in the past 12 months. The annualized inflation rate grew from 39.3% in August 2022 to 49.1% in May 2023, but it has declined since then to about 46.7% in August of this year.

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