Can Jobs Programs Build Peace

In the last decade, well over $10bn has been spent on interventions that aim to build peace and social stability through employment. Despite this degree of investment, whether or not these programs perform, and how they do so, remain open questions. We conduct three reviews to condense the status quo of knowledge. First, we review academic literature on drivers of instability and develop testable theories of how employment programs interrupt these drivers. Second, we review academic and grey literature that directly tests the impact of employment programs on peace-related outcomes. Third, we conduct a systematic review of program-based learning. We find good reasons to hypothesize that employment programs might build peace but often, causal chains suffer missing empirical links. Consequently, we find only a very small number of case-studies in the academic literature, and a lack of consistent results, and even consistent indicators, therein. Finally, based on a systematic review of over 400 interventions, we find little evidence that programs have been measured against peace-related outcomes. We conclude that while we see little evidence to disregard the idea that employment programs can contribute to stability, significant learning gaps are present that do not justify the extent of the outlay.

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