Network for Youth in Transition


Urban Youth Bulges and Social Disorder: An Empirical Study of Asian and Sub-Saharan African Cities

Authors: Henrik Urdal  and Kristian Hoelscher

Date:November 1, 2009

Publisher: World Bank Policy Research Working Paper Series, Vol. , pp. -, 2009.

Click here to read Abstract and download complete report

By 2050, two-thirds of the world's population will live in cities, and the greatest growth in urban
populations will take place in the least developed countries. This presents many
governments with considerable challenges related to urban governance and the
provision of services and opportunities to a burgeoning urban population. Among
the concerns is that large youth bulges in urban centers could be a source of
political instability and violence. Here, we assess this claim empirically using
newly collected data on city-level urban social disorder, ranging from
non-violent actions, such as demonstrations and strikes, to violent political
actions, such as riots, terrorism, and armed conflict. The dataset covers 55
major cities in Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa for 1960-2006. The study also
utilizes a new United Nations Population Division dataset on urban populations
by age and sex. The study further considers factors that could condition the
effect of age structure, in particular the level of informal employment,
economic growth, education, and gender imbalances. The analysis finds that large
male youth bulges aged 15-24 are not generally associated with increased risks
of either violent or non-violent social disturbance. Furthermore, the proxy
measures of"youth exclusion"do not seem to increase the risk that large urban
male youth bulges are associated with either form of disturbance. However,
several other factors that may be associated with higher levels of youth
exclusion - notably absence of democratic institutions, low economic growth, and
low levels of secondary educational attainment - are significantly and robustly
associated with increasing levels of urban social disturbance.



Social Science Research Network


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