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My analysis found that population growth, land scarcity, and urbanization do not greatly influence patterns of war and peace (see Table 1 for a summary). The national-level relationship between population-induced scarcity and conflict identified by several case studies does not seem to represent a strong general trend among countries over time. However, there were a few exceptions: countries experiencing high population growth and density in the 1970s were indeed more likely to suffer an outbreak of domestic armed conflict. In addition, further research may moderate these findings: for example, using local level data—rather than national—might reveal a stronger relationship between population pressure and conflict.

About the Author

Henrik Urdal

Director and Research Professor, Peace Research Institute Oslo
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Environmental Change and Security Program

The Environmental Change and Security Program (ECSP) explores the connections between environmental, health, and population dynamics and their links to conflict, human insecurity, and foreign policy.  Read more

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