Urban Social Disorder: An Update

PRIO Paper

Bahgat, Karim; Halvard Buhaug & Henrik Urdal (2018) Urban Social Disorder: An Update, PRIO Paper. Oslo: PRIO.

Unlike most other forms of violent conflict, the rate of urban social disorder events, such as demonstrations and riots, has increased steadily over recent decades. One reason for the diverging trends in political violence may be the demographic shift in the global population. The world is rapidly urbanizing, and the rural-urban migration is especially strong in the developing world, which has historically hosted the large majority of rural-based civil conflicts. Are we witnessing a transformation of violence, where conventional rebel conflicts in the countryside are gradually being replaced by less organized and less predictable forms of urban unrest? This paper presents an updated and expanded version of the PRIO Urban Social Disorder (USD) dataset, covering lethal as well as non-lethal disorder events for national capitals and other major cities across the developing world for all years, 1960–2014. This paper consists of four parts: (i) a description of the new dataset; (ii) a presentation of spatiotemporal trends and patterns in urban violence; (iii) a simple comparison of the USD data with alternative conflict event datasets; and (iv) a replication of an earlier study of urban population growth and social disorder, in order to assess whether past findings are likely to hold up with new data.