People were offered the opportunity to choose from eight reasons why people in their communities were motivated to violence.
Jobs, employment and family
‘Lack of jobs or the need to provide for their families’ topped the list, with nine countries ranking it number one.
Brazil, Colombia, Hungary, the Philippines and South Africa – all middle- income countries – together with Nigeria scored it highest.
Lack of employment can be a powerful motivating factor to turn to criminal violence or join armed groups. It is rarely a stand-alone factor though, and the latest thinking from the UN and World Bank suggests that there is no natural correlation between creating more jobs and less violence.
The key is how jobs are created, especially how that intersects with the distribution of both political and economic inequalities. This is a particular challenge for those countries with rapidly growing demographics. In Nigeria, Africa’s most populous country, around 67% of young people are either unemployed or underemployed.
Lack of employment in middle-income countries and its link to violence may necessitate a re-think of aid approaches that tend to graduate countries from aid once they reach middle-income status.
Injustice and social status
‘A sense of injustice’ ranked second overall, polling more strongly in Brazil, Lebanon, Tunisia, Ukraine and the US. Ranked third overall, and concentrated in DRC, Syria and Tunisia, was the motivation to ‘improve social status’.
Multiple factors are likely to contribute to a sense of injustice. The feeling of what is just – or unjust – is deeply personal and hard to calibrate. There is a similar issue with social status.
In Tunisia, for example, unemployment and underemployment generate a social ‘devaluation’, especially among the 29% of young graduates who cannot find work.
They also contribute to other social issues, such as dropping out of school, drug use and suicide. Experiences of political, economic and social marginalisation, as well as lack of social stability, have been tapped into by armed groups in many different countries.