Employment in Conflict and Post-conflict Situations

By Frances Stewart

There is a common view that unemployment is a critical factor leading to conflict; that employment is a casualty of conflict; and that therefore the creation of jobs should be a priority in post-conflict situations. This is in order to make the recurrence of conflict less likely as well as to generate and spread incomes and production. Consequently, many post-conflict settlements include provisions to promote employment.
There is some truth in each part of this argument, but each step is greatly oversimplified, and most existing policy prescriptions contribute very little to ‘solving’ the employment problem in post-conflict countries or to sustaining peace. This note will analyse each step of the argument. The first section will briefly review concepts of employment and unemployment in relation to developing country labour markets. The second section discusses the relationship between employment status and the likelihood of violent conflict. The third section reviews the evidence of how employment is affected by conflict, while the fourth section discusses post-conflict policies towards employment in light of the earlier analysis.