EgyptianWomanMohammedAbedGetty

by Patrick Appel

Ellen Knickmeyer emphasizes their role in the protests:

Some political scientists warn of the dark side of the "youth bulge." A study by Population Action International asserted that 80 percent of the world's conflicts between 1970 and 1999 started in countries where 60 percent of the population was under 30. (Of course, other factors -- such as the Cold War -- also played a role.)

Political scientists and development economists like Tarik Yousef, founding dean of the Dubai School of Government, saw the Middle East and North African youth bulge coming for years. They urged Arab leaders to harness the skilled, eager, and educated labor force flooding on to the market.

The youth bulge could have been "a precondition for problems, or a precondition for prosperity," Yousef said by phone on Jan. 27, from Dubai. 

(Photo: An Egyptian woman shouts as she demonstrates outside the Lawyers' Sydicate in Cairo on January 27, 2011, demanding the ouster of President Hosni Mubarak, 82-years-old, who has held on to power for more than three decades. By Mohammed Abed/AFP/Getty Images)

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