Creating a Social Compact for the 21st Century

Past Program

Apr 26 - May 01, 2015

Youth, Economics and Violence: Implications for Future Conflict

Program Overview

Today's youth face an identity crisis. Youth should symbolize rising hopes, endless possibilities and the energy to reach personal goals. Yet societal systems in many countries are failing young people, as reflected in poor educational, professional and health forecasts - especially for youth on the margins. Too often, economic and policy frameworks struggle to promote social and educational mobility at scale, despite the opportunities supposedly opened up by globalization. What does this mean for our future social infrastructure?

Historically, marginalized youth have played a prominent role in revolution, political unrest, and social disorder, with young men - often those with limited education and/or restricted economic security - at the fore. In countries with youth experiencing rising inequality and unreliable job prospects, there has been a notable increase in internal conflict, crime, and other markers of instability, including the rise of extremist networks. Recent studies on high youth populations and political violence show a statistical relationship between the two. However, there are conflicting opinions on the relative impact of other factors, including the urban/rural distribution of youth populations, access to employment and education, and the scale of political discontent.

As the percentage of under-25s in developing countries rises above 50% and urbanization accelerates, there will be interconnected problems of high youth populations in urban areas without access to jobs, livelihoods and pathways to economic security. Without holistic strategies, these will have major implications for social cohesion and broader security issues, particularly in failing social systems.

Youth in stressed contexts are torn between being "the future" (with no clear pathway to get there) and being kept at arms' length (as potential instigators of civil discord). Too often, policy makers give lip service to youth support but focus their efforts on cracking down on delinquency, protests, and crime. Whilst public safety demands an effective response to crime and disorder, 21st century strategies need to get beyond fragmented and reactive interventions to fully leverage next-generation human and social capital.

Looking forward, policy makers must develop a more sophisticated understanding of their disparate youth populations in order to design and implement preemptive and responsive systems to nurture youth potential in constructive ways. In partnership with the Harry Frank Guggenheim Foundation, Salzburg Global Seminar is convening a strategic program to address the interconnected problems and opportunities of burgeoning youth populations and marginalized youth in key regions around the world.

Click here to view and download Program Brochure



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Recommended Readings


"Afghan Youth: Challenges to Development" by Srinjoy Bose, Himal Southasian

"Afghan Youth: Separating Fact from Fiction" by Srinjoy Bose, The Diplomat

"China's Digital Protesters aren't Confined to Hong Kong" by Stephanie Gordon, The Conversation

"Counting Bodies: Crime Mapping, Policing and Race in Colombia" by Eduardo Moncada, Ethnic and Racial Studies

"From Exclusion to International Migration: The Case of Latino Youths" by Magaly Sanchez R.

"Insecurity and Violence as a New Power Relation in Latin America" by Magaly Sanchez R., Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science, Vol. 606.

"Key Challenges of Security Provision in Rapidly Urbanising Contexts: Evidence from Kathmandu Valley and Terai Regions of Nepal" by S.Bogati and J. Gupta, Institute of Development Studies

"La complejidad de la violencia en Venezuela: Radicalización y barbarismo", by Magaly Sanchez R. (In Spanish)

"Pensioners Escaped Effects of Austerity while Young Suffered Most, Says Report" by Heather Stewart, The Guardian

"Role of Economic Factors in Political Movement: the Syrian Case" by Rabbie Nasser and Zaki Mehchy, presented at  the Arab Planning Institute in Kuwait (in Arabic)

"Study Finds Unexpected Risk Factors for Violent Radicalization" by Michael Pizzi, Al Jazeera

"Teenage Wasteland" by Sharon Morris, Foreign Policy

"The End of Creativity" by Kevin Ashton,

"The Generation Trap: 'Mortgages for People My Age are Virtually out of Reach" by Amelia Hill, The Guardian

"The Kazan Leviathan: Russian Street Gangs as Agents of Social Order" by Svetlana Stephenson, the Sociological Review

"The Missing Middle. Examining the Armed Group Phenomenon in Nepal" by Subindra Bogati, Issue Brief

"The Politics of Urban Violence: Challenges for Development in the Global South" by Eduardo Moncada, Studies in Comparative International Development

"The Violent Practices of Youth Territorial Groups in Moscow" by Svetlana Stephenson, Europe Asia Studies

“Understanding the uneven distribution of the incidence of homicide in Latin America” by Roberto Briceno Leon (et al), International Journal Of Epidemiology

Introduction by Akile Gürsoy to the translation into English of the novel by Aras Ören “Please, No Police”, University of Texas Press, 1992


Hidden in Plain Sight: A statistical Analysis of Violence Against Children (UNICEF  2014). This link takes you to the report where you can download it.

Syrian Center for Policy Research: Alienation and Violence Report 2014. This link takes you to the report where you can download it.


"Economics and Youth Violence: Crime, Disadvantage, and Community" Edited by Richard Rosenfeld , Mark Edberg , Xiangming Fang and Curtis S. Florence, New York University Press 2013
*(an in-house copy of the book with be available at Salzburg Global Seminar)

"Young People in European Bulgaria. A Sociological Portrait 2014" by Petar-Emil Mitev & Siyka Kovacheva, Friedrich Ebert Foundation 2014

 "Youth and Social Change in Eastern Europe and the Former Soviet Union" Edited by Charles Walked and Svetlana Stephenson, Routledge 2012

"Out of the Mountains: The Coming of Age of Urban Guerrilla" by David Kilcullen, Oxford University Press 2013