Civil wars have replaced interstate wars as the dominant form of violence in the world and have caused over 16 million deaths since 1945, affecting every region of the planet. A new study, published in International Studies Quarterly, demonstrably shows how an investment in education decreases the likelihood of civil war in any region.
The research shows that an increase in primary education enrollment results in a 73 percent decrease in the likelihood of civil war onset. This impact is similar to that of increased income levels (88 percent decrease), which is far more difficult to alter.
?An investment in young children sends a strong signal to the people that the government cares about their lives. The opportunities provided by high levels of education make the dangers of rebel organizations seem less appealing,? says Clayton Thyne, author of the study. ?Education also provides the opportunity for people of different backgrounds and ethnicities to develop the social skills necessary to express grievances in a non-violent manner.?
Internally, civil war destroys a state?s economy, social structure and the psychological well-being of nearly all involved. These effects extend well beyond a country?s borders, destabilizing neighboring governments with massive floods of refugees, sparking economic down-turns and spreading diseases and narcotics. Civil wars also provide breeding grounds for terrorists, creating a power vacuum which allows an organization to group and train.
This study provides a mechanism by which governments can reduce the likelihood of internal violence. By investing in their systems of education, governments can decrease grievances and increase costs of violent anti-government activity, both of which should have a pacifying impact on the likelihood of civil conflict.