Revolution and Social Development in Iran

The scholarship about the consequences of social revolutions contends that social revolutions boost state capacity and strengthen the state’s developmental projects. Social justice and addressing the needs of ordinary citizens also were central themes in the discourse of the Iranian revolution and the Islamic Republic that emerged as the post-revolutionary regime with the fall of the monarchy in Iran. In this essay, I assess the performance of the post-revolutionary state in Iran according to different development indicators. Specifically, I compare the record of the post-revolutionary regime with the pre-revolutionary regime. My examination of various indicators relating to health, education, poverty, income inequality, and housing presents more of a mixed result than the overall improvement that previous scholarship anticipated and that the post-revolutionary regime had promised. Furthermore, the evidence points to declines in some important areas of development and welfare provision. Based on this analysis, I propose directions for future research about the developmental outcome of revolutions.