Youth bulges, insurrections and labor-market restrictions
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This paper analyzes the link between large youth cohorts and violent conflicts when labor-market restrictions are present. Such restrictions are expected to limit the youth cohort’s access to income opportunities in the formal economy, and thus lower the youth-specific opportunity cost of insurrection activities. We develop a theoretical model of insurrection markets and integrate the youth cohort’s relative size. In equilibrium, a binding labor-market constraint interacts with the youth bulge in determining the level of insurrection activities within the society. We test the implications of our model on a sample of 135 non-OECD countries in the post-Cold War period and find the effect of the youth cohort’s relative size on conflict onsets to be moderated by changes in the labor-market conditions as measured by unemployment rates. Generally, the results provide evidence that the underlying institutional setting shapes the conflict potential inherent in a given demographic structure.
KeywordsYouth bulges Demography Insurrections Political economy of revolutions
JEL ClassificationH56 J10 J22 P16
We are grateful to Roger Congleton and Randall Holcombe for helpful discussions at the 2016 Meeting of the Public Choice Society, as well as to the anonymous referees and the editor in charge of our submission, William Shughart II, for unusually constructive comments. We also thank Rahel Schomaker and Dirk Wentzel for insightful discussions at early stages of the project. Earlier versions of this paper were presented at the 2016 Meeting of the European Public Choice Society and the 2015 Meeting of the German Economic Association.
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