What Explains the London Riots?

Both the average citizen and Britain’s leaders are trying to make sense of the social unrest erupting in one of Europe’s most prosperous countries.

Led by mostly young people, the London riots have spread to smaller cities including Manchester and Liverpool.

British Prime Minister David Cameron has said that the London riots have nothing to do with political protest, and are motivated only by theft and crime. But others have sought to draw the connection between the riots and Britain’s staggering youth unemployment rate, which stands at around 1 million people ages 16-24.

What explains these riots? To what extent are they the result of Britain’s stagnant economy and recent sweeping austerity measures?