The Security Demographic – Population and Civil Conflict After the Cold War

by Richard Cincotta, Robert Engelman, and Daniele Anastasion

Do the dynamics of human population — rates of growth, age structure, distribution and more — influence when and where warfare will next break out? The findings of this report suggest that the risks of civil conflict (deadly violence between governments and non-state insurgents, or between state factions within territorial boundaries) that are generated by demographic factors may be much more significant than generally recognized, and worthy of more serious consideration by national security policymakers and researchers. Its conclusions are drawn from a review of literature and analyses of data from 180 countries, about half of which experienced civil conflict at some time from 1970 through 2000.

Recent progress along the demographic transition — a population’s shift from high to low rates of birth and death — is associated with continuous declines in the vulnerability of nation-states to civil conflict. If this association continues through the 21st century, then a range of policies promoting small, healthy and better educated families and long lives among populations in developing countries seems likely to encourage greater political stability in weak states and to enhance global security in the future.

Table of Contents

  • CHAPTER ONE: Conflicts and Conundrums
  • CHAPTER TWO: Transition from Turmoil
  • CHAPTER THREE: Stress Factor One: The Youth Bulge
  • CHAPTER FOUR: Stress Factor Two: Rapid Urban Growth
  • CHAPTER FIVE: Stress Factor Three: Competition for Cropland and Fresh Water
  • CHAPTER SIX: Stress Factor Four: HIV/AIDS, Death in the Prime of Life
  • CHAPTER SEVEN Interactions of Demographic Stress Factors