Demography and Domestic Armed Conflict

Led by Henrik Urdal
Jan 2003 - Feb 2007

The objective of this doctoral project is to address and analyze demographic characteristics as potential causes of domestic political violence such as armed conflict, riots and terrorism. The point of departure is the debate over the assumed relationship between population growth, natural resource scarcity and political violence. According to neomalthusians, population pressure can, under unfavourable economic and political conditions, lead to environmental degradation and resource scarcity. It is further assumed that collective violent action may erupt over such scarcities. Two additional demographic characteristics, the existence of ‘youth bulges’ and unequal growth rates between different ethnic groups, are also addressed. These are frequently argued to have important security implications. Using statistical surveys, this project examines whether these demographic factors are associated with different forms of political violence. The project includes both time-series cross-national studies and studies of inter-regional patterns of political violence for some countries of particular interest.

Related publications:

Brunborg, Helge & Henrik Urdal, eds, 2005. Special Issue on ‘Demography and Conflict’, Journal of Peace Research 42(4).


Urdal, Henrik, 2004. ‘A Clash of Generations? Youth Bulges and Political Violence’. Manuscript submitted to International Studies Quarterly, invited to revise and resubmit.

Gleditsch, Nils Petter & Henrik Urdal, 2004. ‘Roots of Conflict: Don’t Blame Environmental Decay for the Next War’. Op.ed. International Herald Tribune November 22.


Urdal, Henrik & Nils Petter Gleditsch, 2004. ‘Fredspris for treplanting?’ [Peace Prize for Tree Planting?]. Op.ed. Aftenposten October 17.


Urdal, Henrik, 2004. ‘Demographic Change, Natural Resources and Violent Conflict: The Case of India’. Paper Presented to the Fifth Pan-European International Relations Conference, The Hague, Netherlands, 9 – 11 September.

Urdal, Henrik, 2004. ‘The Devil in the Demographics: The Effect of Youth Bulges on Domestic Armed Conflict, 1950-2000’. Social Development Papers 14. Washington DC: Conflict Prevention and Reconstruction Unit, World Bank.http://www- The  Devil in the Demographics (PDF)

Brunborg, Helge; Torkild Lyngstad & Henrik Urdal, 2003. ‘Accounting for Genocide: How Many Were Killed in Srebrenica?’. European Journal of Population 19(3): 229–248.

Urdal, Henrik, 2003. ‘People vs Malthus: Population Pressure, Environmental Degradation and Armed Conflict Revisited'. Paper Presented at the 44th Annual Convention of the International Studies Association (ISA), Portland OR, 25. February–1. March.

Gleditsch, Nils Petter & Henrik Urdal, 2002. ‘Ecoviolence? Links Between Population Growth, Environmental Scarcity and Violent Conflict in Thomas Homer-Dixon's Work’. Journal of International Affairs 56(1): 283-302.

Urdal, Henrik, 2001. ‘Nasjoner som kategorier. En analyse av folketellingene i Bosnia-Hercegovina [Nations as categories. An analysis of the population censuses of Bosnia-Hercegovina]. Tidsskrift for Samfunnsforskning 42(4): 571-589.



Peer-reviewed Journal Article

Raleigh, Clionadh; & Henrik Urdal (2007) Climate Change, Environmental Degradation and Armed Conflict, Political Geography 26(6): 674–694.
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.

Book Chapter

Urdal, Henrik(2007) The Demographics of Political Violence: Youth Bulges, Insecurity and Conflict Too Poor For Peace? Global Poverty, Conflict and Security In the 21St Century. : (90–100).

Non-refereed Journal Article

Urdal, Henrik (2005) Defusing the Population Bomb: Is Security a Rationale for Reducing Global Population Growth? , Environmental Change and Security Program Report (11): 5–11.

Conference Paper

Raleigh, Clionadh; & Urdal, Henrik 2005 Climate Change, Environmental Degradation and Armed Conflict, presented at the workshop on ‘Human Security and Climate Change’, , 22–23 June.
Urdal, Henrik 2006 Population, Resources and Political Violence: A Sub-National Study of India 1956-2002. Previously Presented to the 2004 Annual Convention of the International Studies Association, Montreal., 17–20 March.