Child Soldiers as an Expendable Resource: Costs Related to Child Soldiering : How Does Child Soldier Usage Affect Rebel Losses?

University essay from Uppsala universitet/Institutionen för freds- och konfliktforskning

Abstract: As there seem to be a relationship between child soldiering and increased fighting capacity, there appears to be logical advantages of using child soldiers. However, research suggest that children ought to be inferior soldiers than adults. This pinpoints the need for clarifications regarding what disadvantages are associated with the benefits of using child soldiers. As child soldiering has mainly been investigated out of a perspective of systemic influences, there is a need to better understand the recruitment decision side; why rebel leaders prefer to recruit children. While the quantitative research on civil conflicts has tried to identify what ingredients that make conflict severe, the presence of child soldiers has been suggested to be, perhaps not such an ingredient, but at least an exacerbating one. By conducting a quantitative analysis of data on civil conflicts between 1989 and 2010, this study asks how the use of child soldiers affects the severity of the conflict, in terms of rebel losses. As the hypothesis suggests that rebel groups that are using child soldiers have a higher number of rebel losses, the results of this study indicate that the hypothesis is supported. Based on the results of this study, it can be argued that there are costs associated with the benefits of increased fighting capacity, and that these costs are high, when measured in rebel losses. 

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