Rural Youth in the Context of Fragility and Conflict

Armed conflict is sometimes described as “development in reverse”, causing many adversities, across a range of economic and non-economic indicators at all stages of life: from childhood health and mortality; to human capital accumulation; to labor market outcomes; to family and fertility decisions; and to the quality of institutions. That a number of these outcomes have been defined as drivers of conflict suggests that pernicious cycles that might develop in conflict-affected areas.

The aim of this project is to develop a more nuanced understanding of how conflict can affect a very particular and vulnerable group – rural youth. Given that rural youth have different endowments to other socio-demographic groups, it is likely that they will, consequently, experience conflict differently. Rural youth face, if anything, a greater diversity of violent threats and other threats to stability than their urban counterparts, with 60% of young people affected by conflict living in rural areas. 10% of those who are exposed to conflict are rural youth, despite this group constituting only about 7% of the world’s population.

Furthermore, as conflict-affected (rural) youth progress through consecutive life stages, they carry forward the legacies of conflict into their adult life and old age, shaping later life outcomes. While we show the potential impact of these legacies on rural youth, based on an overview of a range of relevant literature at various life stages (prenatal; early life; primary and secondary education; transition to employment; employment; and family formation), we note that rural youth are seldom the explicit focus of analyses. In turn, there may also be a lack of evidence on the channels that can be used by good policy choices and programming to overcome the post-conflict legacies faced by this particular group.

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