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Of, By, and For the People? How Demographic Pressure Affects Participation in Inter- and Intra-State Conflicts

by Floros, Katharine M.

Abstract (Summary)
Under what circumstances do demographic factors motivate states to engage in inter-state conflict, and when do these factors lead to civil conflict? IR and comparative politics scholars have investigated the links between population and conflict, but two common limitations are common in such studies. First, scholars have failed to differentiate between the demographic causes of inter-state (between countries) and civil conflict, as these conflict processes are not often addressed in the same study. Second, scholars have failed to define and explain adequately the difference between demographic change and demographic pressure. This project addresses these two limitations in the current research. First, I propose a second-image explanation of conflict which rests on the contractual relationship between the state and society. As the state collects rents from society to provide services, so society expects services for rents paid. When this relationship is disrupted by demographic pressure, states must respond to forestall regime change or state breakdown. If the state cannot extract rents internally, they may pursue external options to acquire additional resources. Failure to attain resources may result in internal conflict as domestic groups simultaneously evaluate the effectiveness of the government in meeting societal demands. The second limitation this project addresses is the conceptual imprecision of 'demographic pressure'. I distinguish between demographic change and demographic pressure by accounting for state capacity. All states experience demographic change, but many states have the capacity to adapt to these changes. States experiencing economic hardship, however, face 'pressure' when demographic changes cannot be accommodated easily with existing economic stagnation. I utilize two large cross-national datasets, covering the post-World War II period to test my theoretical link between demographic pressure and inter-state and civil conflict while controlling for state, dyadic and systemic factors. The empirical analysis supports my primary hypotheses that demographic pressure is associated with an increased likelihood of both inter- and intra-state conflict. Additional hypotheses to determine more specific conditions under which this increased likelihood holds generated mixed results; however, the robustness of the demographic pressure measure confirms that demographic pressure is an important predictor of both civil and inter-state conflict.
Bibliographical Information:

Advisor:Burcu Savun; Siddharth Chandra; David H. Bearce; Charles S. Gochman

School:University of Pittsburgh

School Location:USA - Pennsylvania

Source Type:Master's Thesis

Keywords:political science

ISBN:

Date of Publication:06/12/2008

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