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This paper analyzes the link between large youth cohorts and violent conflicts when labor-market restrictions are present. Such restrictions are expected to limit the youth cohort’s access to income opportunities in the formal economy, and thus lower the youth-specific opportunity cost of insurrection activities. We develop a theoretical model of insurrection markets and integrate the youth cohort’s relative size. In equilibrium, a binding labor-market constraint interacts with the youth bulge in determining the level of insurrection activities within the society. We test the implications of our model on a sample of 135 non-OECD countries in the post-Cold War period and find the effect of the youth cohort’s relative size on conflict onsets to be moderated by changes in the labor-market conditions as measured by unemployment rates. Generally, the results provide evidence that the underlying institutional setting shapes the conflict potential inherent in a given demographic structure.

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