Fight the Youth: Youth Bulges and State Repression


  • We thank the following people for comments and suggestions: Kraig Beyerlein, Henrik Urdal, Kristine Eck, Joakim Kreutz, Monica Nalepa, participants at the Peace and Conflict Workshop 2011 at the Kroc Institute for International Peace Studies, University of Notre Dame and five anonymous reviewers and the AJPS editors. Replication data are found in the AJPS Data Archive on Dataverse:


It is generally acknowledged that large youth cohorts or “youth bulges” make countries more susceptible to antistate political violence. Thus, we assume that governments are forewarned about the political demographic threat that a youth bulge represents to the status quo and will attempt to preempt behavioral challenges by engaging in repression. A statistical analysis of the relationship between youth bulges and state repression from 1976 to 2000 confirms our expectation. Controlling for factors known to be associated with coercive state action, we find that governments facing a youth bulge are more repressive than other states. This relationship holds when controlling for, and running interactions with, levels of actual protest behavior. Youth bulges and other elements that may matter for preemptive state strategies should therefore be included in future empirical models of state repression.