Employment for Stability: Does opportunity reduce instability?

Organization: The Hague Institute for Global Justice

On 14 June The Hague Institute and its project partners organized a workshop to present and discuss findings of the research project ‘Employment for Stability’ -“Does Opportunity Reduce Instability? A Meta-Analysis of Skills and Employment Interventions in LMICs”.

Read Will Bennett's blog on employment and stability - "Driving in the Fog: Do employment programs reduce instability?"

The multi-year research project is funded by the Netherlands Organization for Scientific Research and led by The Hague Institute for Global Justice. The project brings together a large set of leading researchers working on stability and employment in development from a range of European and African institutions. The Hague Institute’s partners are the Pan-African Chamber of Commerce and Industry (PACCI) based in Addis Ababa, INES-Ruhengeri in Rwanda, the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI), and the United Nations University, Merit (UNU-Merit) in Maastricht.

The project builds on the realization that creating employment has become a key development strategy, resulting in turn in a surge of pro-employment interventions. With poverty and unemployment regularly cited as robust correlates of instability, such programs also have the potential to increase stability, or the preservation of the social contract. Such potential positive externalities are rarely considered, however, with success measured by economic impact.

The project contributes to filling this gap using employment interventions and stability data in a broad set of countries to identify externalities, their underlying mechanisms, and the role of the macro-environment therein. The workshop included a series of short presentations by several project researchers, followed by a group discussion. The lead of the project, Dr. Tilman Brück, started off with explaining the main drivers of instability: lack of opportunity, grievance and lack of contact.  During the workshop, special emphasis was placed on the discussion of policy relevant implications of the research, leading to suggestions of improved policies and programs strengthening employment for stability in conflict and fragile states. This led to a group discussion on the unintentional effects of targeted programs, the kind of employment that we included in our research and what links employment to peace. The theories of change were discussed in order to understand the different types of intervention that are most successful and the reasons behind their success.

To conclude, our research demonstrates that there is no evidence of a relationship between employment and stability, or that employment programs have an impact. Moreover, there is no robust relationship between employment programs and individual employment. Our findings also suggest that employment programs do not show significant spatial spillovers to non-beneficiaries. This raises questions about suitability of employment programs and how these programs can build peace.

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