Does Education Lead to Pacification? A Systematic Review of Quantitative Studies on Education and Political Violence

Published online in:
Review of Educational Research
October 11, 2018

Gudrun Østby, International Peace Research Institute Oslo
Henrik Urdal, International Peace Research Institute Oslo
Kendra Dupuy, International Peace Research Institute Oslo


Does more education lead to less political violence, and may education thus be a tool for peace? This article provides the first systematic review of the existing quantitative literature on education and political violence. Looking at arguments pertaining to levels, expansion, inequality, and content of education, we identify 42 quantitative studies from the time period 1996–2016 that test the relationship between various measures of education and political violence. An emerging scholarly consensus seems to be that education has a general pacifying effect. However, this general conclusion is challenged by recent evidence showing above-average levels of education among terrorists and genocide perpetrators. This, as well as other findings, underscores that the relationship between education and political violence is complex and multidimensional, depending on type of political violence, mediating factors, and level of analysis. We conclude with policy implications from our findings and discuss directions for future analysis.  

Read the news release - "Does More Education Stem Political Violence?" - here. 

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