Urbanization, the Youth, and Protest: A Cross-National Analysis
Demographic changes associated with the transformation from traditional to advanced economies are the basis for many of today’s theories of violent and non-violent protest formation. Both levels of urbanization and the size of the “youth bulge” have shown to be reliable measures for predicting protest events in a country. As these two processes result from modernization, it seems logical to hypothesize that the combined effect of the rise in urbanization and the increase in the youth population, urban youth bulge, would be a more relevant predictor for protests. Our tests on cross-national time-series data from 1950 to 2010 for 98 countries reveal that the combined effect of the two forces is an important predictor of anti-government protests. It may seem that the role of the urban youth bulge would appear to be an issue of the past as in more recent decades the proportion of the urban youth tends to decline in most countries of the world. However, this factor tends to be very relevant for many developing countries where both youth bulges have been growing for several decades and the general urban population is on the rise.