Jobs Aid Peace: A Review of the theory and practice of the impact of employment programmes on peace in fragile and conflict-affected countries

The notion that employment can contribute to peace is the explicit backdrop to a large number of labour, training and entrepreneurship programmes and is an implicit one of many more, especially in fragile and conflict-affected states. At the same time, there is a lack of systematic presentation of knowledge on selection into pre-/violent behaviour; on the links between employment programmes and peace; and on which programme designs maximise impact. This research develops the first systematic overview on this topic.

This research shows that the theoretical underpinnings of the relationship between employment programmes and peace are well-established but that several layers of empirical support are missing. Firstly, the quantitative support for the theories of change is often weak or absent; secondly, learning on the main relationship between employment and peacebuilding at the programme level is scant; and finally, there are no examples of deeper learning on which programme typologies maximise impact. We conclude that it is imperative that agencies prioritise efforts to close these knowledge gaps.

Closing the knowledge gap requires two major commitments. The first – on the demand side - is to support development of new understanding on selection into pre-/violent behaviours and on how such choices can be deterred. The second – on the supply side - is to facilitate and implement a well-defined system of ‘enhanced learning’ that builds empirical knowledge of programme channels on outcomes and on the variation of these impacts across programme typologies. In combination, these knowledge generation activities will provide a basis for more effective future programming.

This report was prepared by the International Security and Development Center (ISDC) for and with support from the International Labour Organization (ILO), Peacebuilding Support Office (PBSO), United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the World Bank Group (WBG).