Youth Cohorts and the Risk of Conflict Recurrence: A Global Quantitative Analysis

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

Abstract: While the role of youth in post-conflict settings has increasingly gained policy attention, systematic academic studies on this topic remain scarce. This research adds to existing literature by the youth bulge theory of conflict onset to a post-conflict setting. It hypothesizes that large youth bulges at the time conflict episodes end increase the feasibility for rebel groups to relaunch their insurgence and are therefore associated with a higher risk of conflict recurrence. A global quantitative analysis revealed a statistically significant positive correlation between youth bulges and conflict recurrence. Three conditional hypotheses which focus on elements of economic, political and social exclusion that are argued to interact with youth bulges to influence the risk of conflict recurrence found no empirical support. However, the combination of findings for Hypothesis 1 and non-findings for Hypotheses 2 may indicate that the underlying cause for the relationship between youth bulges and conflict recurrence may not be based on young people’s individual grievances and motives to join a rebel group. Instead, other factors may be at play which could not be tested within the scope of this study. Despite its shortcomings, this study therefore confirms the necessity of continuing to investigate the relationship between the age distribution of a population and the risk of conflict recurrence.

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