Autocracy as a Form of Sustained Low-Intensity Civil Conflict: Does Age Structure Provide Insights into the Democratic Transition?

Richard Cincotta, National Intelligence Council (NIC)
Christian G. Mesquida, York University

Why has there been, during the latter half of the 20th century, a tendency for partial democracies to stall or retreat along the path to full democracy? We approach this question by assuming that autocracy is a form of low-intensity civil conflict perpetuated by states on non-state actors and hostile state-factions, and that full democracy is civil peace (a cessation of violence, coercion and intimidation). This assumption allows for adapting the “youth bulge model of the risk of civil conflict” to investigate the democratic transition. Our analysis reports a consistent inverse relationship between the regional proportion of young adults and the proportion of countries that have attained full democracy. We use this relationship to generate a likelihood of full democracy, which can identify geographic regions and individual countries that, before 2015, are projected to experience a significant degree of demographic opportunity to achieve full democracy.

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Presented in Session 74: Demography of Armed Conflict