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Youth Bulge and Mid-Life Moderation: Large Cohort Size Effects, Economic Perspectives and Civil Conflict in Sub-Saharan Africa.

Ludwig, Markus (2013): Youth Bulge and Mid-Life Moderation: Large Cohort Size Effects, Economic Perspectives and Civil Conflict in Sub-Saharan Africa.

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Abstract

I argue that large youth cohorts consisting of males aged 15--19 increase the risk of civil conflict, by boosting the pool of potential recruits (PR) along the extensive (cohort size) and intensive (marginalization) margin. As these large cohorts transit out of the pool of PR in their mid-40s, the risk of civil conflict declines again. My estimates show that the size of male cohorts aged 15--19 is strongly positively related to the risk of the onset of civil conflict for a sample of African countries from 1960 to 2009. A one-percent increase in this population group increases the likelihood of the onset of civil conflict by 1.4 percentage points. The results further show that better economic perspectives---in particular, high contemporaneous rainfall, higher agricultural output and foreign aid---considerably hamper this effect. Also urbanization mitigates the impact of youth bulges. This suggests that civil conflict is more likely when several adverse factors coincide and that economic conditions affect civil conflicts via a marginalization of youth population. In turn, a one-percent increase in the male population aged 40--44 reduces the risk of conflict by 0.8 percentage points. To avoid endogeneity and omitted variable bias, I use rainfall variation in the birth year of the respective age cohorts as an instrument for the cohort sizes. To support my argument, I then show that rainfall affects the infant mortality rate, and hence birth cohort sizes. Finally, I show that youth bulges also drive low-level social violence in Africa.

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