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Most aid spending by governments seeking to rebuild social and political order is based on an opportunity-cost theory of distracting potential recruits. The logic is that gainfully employed young men are less likely to participate in political violence, implying a positive correlation between unemployment and violence in locations with active insurgencies. The authors test that prediction in Afghanistan, Iraq and the Philippines, using survey data on unemployment and two newly-available measures of insurgency: attacks against government and allied forces; and violence that kill civilians.
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