“We know that historically, as well as in the present, countries that have very young age structures – those that have youthful and rapidly growing populations – have been the most vulnerable
to outbreaks in civil conflict,” said Elizabeth Leahy Madsen
, senior research associate at Population Action International, in an interview with ECSP. “It’s not a simple cause and effect relationship, but we think that demographic trends and pressures can exacerbate underlying conditions.”
“When this really matters is when governments ignore their necessity to provide opportunities to growing numbers of young people – education opportunities, employment opportunities, prospects for better futures,” Madsen said.
Fortunately, “one of the great things about demography is that it’s not static – it responds to the opportunities that are available to individual people and to societies as a whole, and we know what some of those opportunities are,” she said. “One of the biggest ones is providing family planning and reproductive health services that enable women and couples to have the number of children that they choose. Around the world, there are more than 200 million women today who aren’t using family planning services even though they would like to avoid pregnancy.”
Other basic policy solutions that have a major impact over time are ensuring education, especially for girls, and providing employment opportunities for young people, said Madsen.