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Youth, armed violence and job creation programmes: A Rapid Mapping Study

Walton, Oliver (2010) Youth, armed violence and job creation programmes: A Rapid Mapping Study. Project Report. University of Birmingham, Governance and Social Development Resource Centre (GSDRC), Birmingham, UK.

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URL of Published Version: http://www.gsdrc.org/docs/open/EIRS11.pdf


In response to growing evidence from the social science literature about the links between youth population bulges, youth unemployment and armed conflict, donors have increasingly attempted to use youth job creation programmes to address conflict. However, this study finds that both the theoretical and empirical cases for using youth employment programmes as a tool for reducing violent conflict are extremely weak. Donor interventions have been poorly evaluated and evidence of success is usually limited to demonstrating the number of jobs created, with little effort made to assess the impact on conflict. The small number of evaluations that have examined the wider impact of job creation initiatives have found that their effects beyond direct beneficiaries are minimal. These studies also usually show limited long-term economic impacts.

The literature suggests that there are multiple motivations for youth engagement in armed violence, that these need to be understood in relation to each particular context, and that there may be considerable variation in the motivations of individual youth within any given context. In-depth case studies suggest that while youth unemployment may provide part of the explanation of why armed violence occurs, this factor is rarely a main or direct cause of violence. Even where youth employment may be a factor, its relationship to violence is complex and multi-faceted and should not simply be understood in opportunity-cost terms. Job creation initiatives alone are unlikely to generate a reduction in armed violence, even if they are successful in creating job opportunities. Evidence suggests that although frustration at lack of livelihood opportunities can play a part in motivating youth violence, social and political grievances are usually more central.

The study finds that donor approaches to reduce armed violence through job creation schemes have become more nuanced and sophisticated. There has been a growing emphasis on ‘holistic’, ‘comprehensive’ and ‘integrated’ approaches that go beyond simply addressing a lack of economic opportunities and seek to address the more complex array of factors that cause social exclusion for young people. These initiatives combine and integrate job-creation schemes with a range of other forms of intervention, such as capacity-building and training in conflict resolution. Donors have also sought to make job creation schemes more effective by conducting better contextual analysis. They have also looked to improve the effectiveness and relevance of these schemes by working more closely with the private sector and tackling the demand-side of youth unemployment. Despite this progress, there is a still a significant gap between donor rhetoric and practice in this area.

Type of Work:Monograph (Project Report)
School/Faculty:Colleges (2008 onwards) > College of Social Sciences
Number of Pages:27
Department:International Development Department

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Date:06 October 2010
Projects:Governance and Social Development Resource Centre
Series/Collection Name:GSDRC Research Papers
Keywords:violence, conflict, peacebuilding, youth, youth bulge, employment, job creation, international development
Subjects:H Social Sciences > HT Communities. Classes. Races
H Social Sciences > HN Social history and conditions. Social problems. Social reform
H Social Sciences > HD Industries. Land use. Labor
Funders:Norsk ressurssenter for fredsbygging (Norwegian Peacebuilding Centre)
Copyright Status:Copyright 2010 University of Birmingham and Norsk ressurssenter for fredsbygging (Norwegian Peacebuilding Centre)
Copyright Holders:University of Birmingham, Norsk ressurssenter for fredsbygging (Norwegian Peacebuilding Centre)
ID Code:653

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