Cities and Populations (2012-2015)

Coordinator: Kristian Hoelscher

​​​Over half the world’s population now lives in cities. By 2050 this number will reach almost 70 percent. This process of urbanization and the accompanying changes to population structure and composition are altering socio-economic and political relations in important ways. While generating considerable opportunities, these transitions can also create significant challenges. Focusing on the city as a site, and urbanisation and population change as processes, the Cities and Populations research group at PRIO seeks to understand how these places and processes can affect livelihoods of citizens, shape social, economic, and political outcomes, and create conditions for peace and conflict.

​The Cities and Populations research group takes a multi-disciplinary perspective, deliberately engaging researchers using both qualitative and quantitative approaches.

Select research themes explore:

  • How political institutions and violence are interrelated in urban areas
  • How armed conflict affects demographic outcomes, such as maternal health
  • How urbanization and climate change may affect inclusion and security in Indian cities.

It is vital that an understanding of the dynamics of urbanization and population change is incorporated into future peace research. While civil wars are on the decline, interpersonal and criminal violence in cites has been increasing. Similarly, demographic changes can alter social relations in cities, and displacement into urban areas due to conflict or environmental degradation may challenge inclusion and stability. Despite these challenges, cities are places of profound opportunity, and it is necessary to gain a deeper understanding of how individuals and governments negotiate risks and opportunities in order to work towards a secure urban future.


Peer-reviewed Journal Article

Sandvik, Kristin Bergtora & Kristian Hoelscher (2017) The Reframing of the War on Drugs as a “Humanitarian Crisis”: Costs, Benefits and Consequences, Latin American Perspectives 44(4): 168–182.
Hoelscher, Kristian & Enzo Nussio (2016) Understanding Unlikely Successes in Urban Violence Reduction, Urban Studies 53(11): 2397–2416.
Hoelscher, Kristian (2015) Politics and Social Violence in Developing Democracies: Theory and Evidence from Brazil, Political Geography 44(1): 29–39.
Wischnath, Gerdis & Halvard Buhaug (2014) Rice or riots: On food production and conflict severity across India, Political Geography 43: 6–15.
Hoelscher, Kristian & Per Martin Norheim-Martinsen (2014) Urban violence and the militarisation of security: Brazilian ‘peacekeeping’ in Rio de Janeiro and Port-au-Prince, Small Wars and Insurgencies 25(5): 957–975.
Strand, Håvard & Henrik Urdal (2014) Hear nothing, see nothing, say nothing: Can states reduce the risk of armed conflict by banning census data on ethnic groups?, International Area Studies Review 17(2): 167–183.
Miklian, Jason & Kristian Hoelscher (2014) A Tale of New Cities: The Future of Urban Planning in the Developing World, Harvard International Review 35(4): 13–18.
Buhaug, Halvard & Henrik Urdal (2013) An urbanization bomb? Population growth and social disorder in cities, Global Environmental Change 23(1): 1–10.
Nordås, Ragnhild & Christian Davenport (2013) Fight the Youth: Youth Bulges and State Repression, American Journal of Political Science 57(4): 926–940.
Urdal, Henrik & Kristian Hoelscher (2012) Explaining Urban Social Disorder and Violence: An Empirical Study of Event Data from Asian and Sub-Saharan African Cities, International Interactions 38(4): 512–528.
Fox, Sean & Kristian Hoelscher (2012) Political Order, Development and Social Violence, Journal of Peace Research 49(3): 431–444.
Sandvik, Kristin Bergtora (2012) Negotiating the Humanitarian Past: History, Memory, and Unstable Cityscapes in Kampala, Uganda, Refugee Survey Quarterly 31(1): 108–122.
Hendrix, Cullen & Kristian Skrede Gleditsch (2012) Civil War: Is it all About Disease and Xenophobia? A Comment on Letendre, Fincher & Thornhill, Biological Reviews 87(1): 163–167.
Raleigh, Clionadh & Håvard Hegre (2009) Population Size, Concentration, and Civil War: A Geographically Disaggregated Analysis, Political Geography 28(4): 224–238.
Carling, Jørgen (2008) Toward a Demography of Immigrant Communities and Their Transnational Potential, International Migration Review 42(2): 449–475.

Book Chapter

Østby, Gudrun & Henrik Urdal (2014) Demographic Factors and Civil War, in Newman, Edward; & Karl R. DeRouen, eds, The Routledge Handbook of Civil Wars. Abingdon & New York: Routledge (131–144).
Buhaug, Halvard; Henrik Urdal & Gudrun Østby (2013) Sustainable Cities: Urbanization and Human Security, in Sygna, Linda; Karen O'Brien; & Johanna Wolf, eds, A Changing Environment for Human Security - Transformative approaches to research, policy and action. London: Routledge (56–66).
Urdal, Henrik (2012) Demography and Armed Conflict: Assessing the Role of Population, in Brown, Graham; & Arnim Langer, eds, Elgar Companion to Civil War and Fragile States. London: Edward Elgar Publishing (139–152).
Nordås, Ragnhild (2012) The Devil in the Demography? Religion, Identity, and War in Cote d'Ivoire, in Goldstone, Jack A.; Eric P. Kaufmann; & Monica Duffy Toft, eds, Political Demography: How Population Changes Are Reshaping International Security and National Politics. Oxford: Oxford University Press (252–267).

Popular Article

Aijaz, Rumi (2015) Smart Moves, Smart Cities, The Pioneer, 1 May.

Conference Paper

Sahoo, Niranjan (2015) Understanding the Processes and Patterns of Exclusion in Urban Space: A Case of Three Indian Cities, presented at Conference on ‘Sustainable Urbanisation in India: Challenges and Opportunities’, organised by Institute of Development Studies Kolkata and IIT Bombay, Kolkata, India, 15–16 January.
Aijaz, Rumi (2014) Development of New Urban Centres in India, presented at ‘Sustainability through System of Settlements’, organised by School of Planning and Architecture and Institutional Systems Planning Centre, Delhi, India, 17–18 January.
Buhaug, Halvard (2013) Attempts to Improve Urban Poor’s Access to Liveable Housing in India, presented at Sixth Beijing Forum on Human Rights, Beijing, China, 12–13 September.
Urdal, Henrik; Kristian Hoelscher & Halvard Buhaug (2012) Does Urbanization Lead to More Peace? Rural-Urban Age Structure Differentials and Civil War, presented at The Annual convention of the International Studies Association, San Diego, CA, 1–4 April.
Urdal, Henrik (2012) Town and Country: Climate Change and Expected Urban-Rural Variation in Conflict Patterns, presented at 53rd Annual Convention of the International Studies Association, San Diego, CA, 1–4 April.

PRIO Paper

Rolandsen, Øystein H. & Ingrid Marie Breidlid (2013) What is Youth Violence in Jonglei?, PRIO Paper. Oslo: PRIO.