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Greed and Grievance in Civil War

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  • Paul Collier
  • Anke Hoeffler
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    Abstract

    Of the 27 major armed conflicts that occurred in 1999, all but two took place within national boundaries. As an impediment to development, internal rebellion especially hurts the world's poorest countries. What motivates civil wars? Greed or grievance? This paper compares two contrasting motivations for rebellion: greed and grievance. Most rebellions are ostensibly in pursuit of a cause, supported by a narrative of grievance. But since grievanceassuagement through rebellion is a public good which a government will not supply, economists predict such rebellions would be rare. Empirically, many rebellions appear to be linked to the capture of resources (such as diamonds in Angola and Sierra Leone, drugs in Colombia, and timber in Cambodia). This paper sets up a simple rational choice model of greed-rebellion and contrasts its predictions with those of a simple grievance model. Some countries return to conflict repeatedly. Are they conflict-prone or is there a feedback effect whereby conflict generates grievance which in turn generates further conflict? It is shown why such a feedback effect might be present in both greed-motivated and grievance rebellions. The results contrast with conventional beliefs about the causes of conflict. A stylized version of conventional beliefs would be that grievance begets conflict which begets grievance which begets further conflict. With such a model, the only point at which to intervene is to reduce the level of objective grievance. The model suggests that what actually happens is that opportunities for predation (controlling primary commodity exports) cause conflict and the grievances this generates induce diasporas to finance further conflict. The point of policy intervention here is to reduce the absolute and relative attraction of primary commodity predation and to reduce the ability of diasporas to fund rebel movements.

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    Bibliographic Info

    Paper provided by Centre for the Study of African Economies, University of Oxford in its series CSAE Working Paper Series with number 2000-18.

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    Date of creation: 2000
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    Handle: RePEc:csa:wpaper:2000-18

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    Cited by:
    1. Silvia Pezzini & Robert MacCulloch, 2003. "The role of freedom, growth and religion in the taste for revolution," Departmental Working Papers 2003-08, Department of Economics, Management and Quantitative Methods at Università degli Studi di Milano.
    2. Emily Oster, 2004. "Witchcraft, Weather and Economic Growth in Renaissance Europe," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 18(1), pages 215-228, Winter.
    3. Michael A. Clemens & Steven Radelet & Rikhil Bhavnani, 2004. "Counting chickens when they hatch: The short-term effect of aid on growth," International Finance 0407010, EconWPA.
    4. Dutta, Indranil & Mishra, Ajit, 2005. "Does Inequality lead to Conflict?," Working Paper Series RP2005/34, World Institute for Development Economic Research (UNU-WIDER).
    5. Perroni, Carlo & Proto, Eugenio, 2010. "Entrepreneurial drain under moral hazard: A high-yield sector curse?," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 93(1), pages 63-70, September.
    6. Fabio Sánchez & María del Mar Palau, 2006. "Conflict, Decentralisation and Local Governance in Colombia, 1974-2004," HiCN Working Papers 14, Households in Conflict Network.
    7. Chauvet, Lisa, 2003. "Socio-political instability and the allocation of international aid by donors," Economics Papers from University Paris Dauphine 123456789/5404, Paris Dauphine University.
    8. Ali, Hamid E. & Lin, Eric S., 2010. "Wars, foodcost and countervailing policies: A panel data approach," Food Policy, Elsevier, vol. 35(5), pages 378-390, October.
    9. Elbadawi, Ibrahim & Sambanis, Nicholas, 2001. "How much war will we see? Estimating the incidence of civil war in 161 countries," Policy Research Working Paper Series 2533, The World Bank.
    10. Maconachie, Roy & Binns, Tony, 2007. "Beyond the resource curse? Diamond mining, development and post-conflict reconstruction in Sierra Leone," Resources Policy, Elsevier, vol. 32(3), pages 104-115, September.

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