Successful Doctoral Defence by Henrik Urdal

Please note: This page refers to an event that has already taken place.

Time: Saturday, 10 February 2007 15:00-15:00
Place: University of Oslo

Henrik Urdal successfully defended his doctoral dissertation "Demography and Internal Armed Conflict" at the University of Oslo. His dissertation is in political science, and the work has been carried out at PRIO.
Opponents were:
• Professor Jack Goldstone, School of Public Policy, George Mason University;
• Assistant Professor Magnus Öberg, Institutionen för freds- och konfliktsforskning, Uppsala Universitet

The coordinator of the PhD committee has been Professor Arild Underdal, Dept. of Political Science, University of Oslo.

Dissertation supervisors have been Research Professor Nils Petter Gleditsch at PRIO and Professor in Demography Øystein Kravdal at the University of Oslo.

Abstract of the dissertation:
Demographic pressures have featured prominently in the debate over the new security challenges in the aftermath of the Cold War. This doctoral project addresses two of the most prominent concerns; over population pressure on natural resources and over ‘youth bulges’. According to the resource scarcity  perspective, high population growth and density are seen as major causes of scarcity of renewable resources like arable land, fresh water, forests, and fisheries. Such scarcities are argued to trigger internal armed conflict, or civil wars, over resource access, particularly in developing countries. More recently, young age structures or ‘youth bulges’ have been claimed to increase the risk of internal armed conflict. The youth bulge argument does not primarily relate to resource scarcity, but rather to exclusion from the labor market, education and political institutions. Surprisingly few studies have attempted to test for systematic statistical relationships between demographic factors and internal armed conflict. This project addresses this void in the literature through four empirical articles. Two of the articles are cross-national studies of the effect of population pressure on natural resources and by youth bulges on internal armed conflict onset. The other two articles represent different responses to the critique that the relationships between demography and conflict should be studied locally. One article uses geo-referenced data on demography, environment, and conflict in a global study of small geographic, rather than political units, while the last article is a study of demography and political violence comparing Indian states. One major conclusion emerging from the the literature through four empirical articles. Two of the articles are cross-national studies of the effect of population pressure on natural resources and by youth bulges on internal armed conflict onset. The other two articles represent different responses to the critique that the relationships between demography and conflict should be studied locally. One article uses geo-referenced data on demography, environment, and conflict in a global study of small geographic, rather than political units, while the last article is a study of demography and political violence comparing Indian states. One major conclusion emerging from the project is that high levels of population growth and high people to productive land ratios do not make countries more susceptible to armed conflict. However, the disaggregated studies provide greater support for the relationship between population pressure on natural resources and conflict than the cross-national study. The combined findings of cross-national and disaggregated studies suggest that relative regional differences in access to natural resources seem to impact conflict risk, even in the absence of any ‘absolute’ scarcity in the country as a whole. A third main conclusion from the project is that a young age structure, or ‘youth bulges’, seem to be associated with increased risks of political violence both cross-nationally and on the sub-national level.


The following articles are published, and are part of the dissertation:

Urdal, Henrik, 2006. 'A Clash of Generations? Youth Bulges and Political Violence', International Studies Quarterly 50(3): 607–630.
 
Urdal, Henrik, 2005. 'People vs. Malthus: Population Pressure, Environmental Degradation, and Armed Conflict Revisited’, Journal of Peace Research 42(4): 417–434.
 

The following articles are part of the dissertation, but are still under review:
 

Raleigh, Clionadh & Henrik Urdal (under review with an academic journal). 'Population Pressure, Resource Scarcity and Armed Conflictr: A Disaggregated Study'.

Urdal, Henrik (under review with an academic journal). 'Population, Resources and Political Violence: A Sub-National Study of India 1956-2002'