Rebellious Youth: Evidence on the Link between Youth Bulges, Institutional Bottlenecks, and Conflict

Gerling Lena


Abstract
This article investigates the relationship between large youth cohorts and civil conflicts. While it has been frequently stated that countries with an exceptionally youthful population are more prone to violent conflicts, we argue that the rebellious potential of a youth bulge depends on the presence of institutional bottlenecks in general, and labor-market restrictions in particular, as these constraints lower the youth-specific cost of engaging in insurrection activities. We test how labor-market restrictions, as approximated by changes in unemployment, interact with the relative youth cohort size in determining the aggregate conflict risk for a sample of 119 countries for the post-Cold War period. Exploiting exogenous variation in the demographic structure by measuring the size of the youth cohort when its members where born, our results suggest that youth bulges constitute the demographic environmentin which rising unemployment is more likely to trigger social tensions and violent conflicts. Moreover, we find that the degree to which large youth cohorts raise the probability of a conflict onset depends more generally on the quality of labor and business regulation, political institutions, and ethnic tensions. (JEL codes:H56, J10, J22, P16)

Keywords
youth bulges, demography, conflict, institutions



Publication type
Article in Journal

Peer reviewed
Yes

Publication status
Published

Year
2018

Journal
CESifo Economic Studies

Volume
2018

Start page
1

End page
40

DOI