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Famine Mortality, Rational Political Inactivity, and International Food Aid

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Author Info

  • Plümper, Thomas
  • Neumayer, Eric

Abstract

Summary Famine mortality is preventable by government action and yet some famines kill. We develop a political theory of famine mortality based on the selectorate theory of Bueno de Mesquita et al. [Bueno de Mesquita, B. B., Morrow, J. M., Siverson, R. M., & Smith, A. (2002). Political institutions, policy choice and the survival of leaders. British Journal of Political Science, 32(4), 559-590, Bueno de Mesquita, B. B., Smith, A., Siverson, R. M., & Morrow J. M. (2003). The logic of political survival. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press]. We argue that it can be politically rational for a government, democratic or not, to remain inactive in the face of severe famine threat. We derive the testable hypotheses that famine mortality is possible in democracies, but likely to be lower than in autocracies. Moreover, a larger share of people being affected by famine relative to population size together with large quantities of international food aid being available will lower the mortality in both regime types, but more so in democracies.

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Bibliographic Info

Article provided by Elsevier in its journal World Development.

Volume (Year): 37 (2009)
Issue (Month): 1 (January)
Pages: 50-61

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Handle: RePEc:eee:wdevel:v:37:y:2009:i:1:p:50-61

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Web page: http://www.elsevier.com/locate/worlddev

Related research

Keywords: famine mortality food aid democracy autocracy developing countries;

References

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  1. Marcus Noland & Sherman Robinson & Tao Wang, 1999. "Famine in North Korea: Causes and Cures," Working Paper Series WP99-2, Peterson Institute for International Economics.
  2. Martin Ravallion, 1997. "Famines and Economics," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 35(3), pages 1205-1242, September.
  3. Sen, Amartya K, 1977. "Starvation and Exchange Entitlements: A General Approach and Its Application to the Great Bengal Famine," Cambridge Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 1(1), pages 33-59, March.
  4. Bowbrick, Peter, 1986. "The causes of famine : A refutation of Professor Sen's theory," Food Policy, Elsevier, vol. 11(2), pages 105-124, May.
  5. Stephen Devereux, 2001. "Sen's Entitlement Approach: Critiques and Counter-critiques," Oxford Development Studies, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 29(3), pages 245-263.
  6. Timothy Besley & Robin Burgess, 2000. "The political economy of government responsiveness: theory and evidence from India," LSE Research Online Documents on Economics 2308, London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library.
  7. Sen, Amartya, 2001. "Development as Freedom," OUP Catalogue, Oxford University Press, number 9780192893307.
  8. Lavy, Victor, 1992. "Alleviating Transitory Food Crises in Sub-Saharan Africa: International Altruism and Trade," World Bank Economic Review, World Bank Group, vol. 6(1), pages 125-38, January.
  9. Barrett, Christopher B., 2002. "Food security and food assistance programs," Handbook of Agricultural Economics, in: B. L. Gardner & G. C. Rausser (ed.), Handbook of Agricultural Economics, edition 1, volume 2, chapter 40, pages 2103-2190 Elsevier.
  10. Eric Neumayer, 2005. "Is the Allocation of Food Aid Free from Donor Interest Bias?," Journal of Development Studies, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 41(3), pages 394-411.
  11. Daniel Goodkind & Loraine West, 2001. "The North Korean Famine and Its Demographic Impact," Population and Development Review, The Population Council, Inc., vol. 27(2), pages 219-238.
  12. Eric Neumayer, 2003. "Do Human Rights Matter in Bilateral Aid Allocation? A Quantitative Analysis of 21 Donor Countries," Social Science Quarterly, Southwestern Social Science Association, vol. 84(3), pages 650-666.
  13. Ullah, Aman, 2004. "Finite Sample Econometrics," OUP Catalogue, Oxford University Press, edition 1, number 9780198774488.
  14. Plumper, Thomas & Martin, Christian W, 2003. " Democracy, Government Spending, and Economic Growth: A Political-Economic Explanation of the Barro-Effect," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 117(1-2), pages 27-50, October.
  15. Kjell Hausken & Christian W. Martin & Thomas Plümper, 2004. "Government Spending and Taxation in Democracies and Autocracies," Constitutional Political Economy, Springer, vol. 15(3), pages 239-259, 09.
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Citations

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Cited by:
  1. Nathalie Francken & Bart Minten & Johan F.M. Swinnen, 2009. "The political economy of relief aid allocation: evidence from Madagascar," LICOS Discussion Papers 23709, LICOS - Centre for Institutions and Economic Performance, KU Leuven.
  2. repec:ise:isegwp:wp072011 is not listed on IDEAS
  3. Fuchs, Andreas & Klann, Nils-Hendrik, 2013. "Emergency Aid 2.0," Annual Conference 2013 (Duesseldorf): Competition Policy and Regulation in a Global Economic Order 79898, Verein für Socialpolitik / German Economic Association.
  4. Stephen M. Miller & Kyriakos C. Neanidis, 2012. "Demographic Transition and Economic Welfare: The Role of Humanitarian Aid," Working papers 2012-06, University of Connecticut, Department of Economics.
  5. Keefer, Philip & Neumayer, Eric & Plumper, Thomas, 2010. "Earthquake propensity and the politics of mortality prevention," Policy Research Working Paper Series 5182, The World Bank.
  6. Vanhaute, Eric, 2009. "From famine to food crisis. What history can teach us about local and global subsistence crises," MPRA Paper 17630, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  7. Eduardo Cavallo & Ilan Noy, 2010. "The Aftermath of Natural Disasters: Beyond Destruction," CESifo Forum, Ifo Institute for Economic Research at the University of Munich, vol. 11(2), pages 25-35, 07.
  8. Genesis T. Yengoh & Frederick Ato Armah & Edward Ebo Onumah, 2010. "Paths to Attaining Food Security: The Case of Cameroon," Challenges, MDPI, Open Access Journal, vol. 1(1), pages 5-26, August.
  9. Pasquale Tridico & Francesco Burchi, 2010. "Institutions, Famine and Inequality," Departmental Working Papers of Economics - University 'Roma Tre' 0121, Department of Economics - University Roma Tre.

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