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A Dynamic Theory of Resource Wars

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  • Daron Acemoglu
  • Mikhail Golosov
  • Aleh Tsyvinski
  • Pierre Yared

Abstract

We develop a dynamic theory of resource wars and study the conditions under which such wars can be prevented. The interaction between the scarcity of resources and the incentives for war in the presence of limited commitment is at the center of our theory. We show that a key parameter determining the incentives for war is the elasticity of demand. Our first result identifies a novel externality that can precipitate war: price-taking firms fail to internalize the impact of their extraction on military action. In the case of inelastic resource demand, war incentives increase over time and war may become inevitable. Our second result shows that in some situations, regulation of prices and quantities by the resource-rich country can prevent war, and when this is the case, there will also be intertemporal distortions. In particular, resource extraction will tend to be slower than that prescribed by the Hotelling rule, which is the rate of extraction in the competitive environment. Our third result is that, due to limited commitment, such regulation can also precipitate war in some circumstances in which war is avoided in the competitive environment.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 16682.

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Date of creation: Jan 2011
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Publication status: published as Daron Acemoglu & Mikhail Golosov & Aleh Tsyvinski & Pierre Yared, 2012. "A Dynamic Theory of Resource Wars," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 127(1), pages 283-331.
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:16682

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  1. Ronald Findlay & Kevin H. O'Rourke, 2007. "Power and Plenty: Trade, War and the World Economy in the Second Millennium (Preface)," The Institute for International Integration Studies Discussion Paper Series iiisdp205, IIIS.
  2. Sandeep Baliga & Tomas Sjostrom, 2001. "Arms Races and Negotiations," NajEcon Working Paper Reviews 391749000000000005, www.najecon.org.
  3. Giovanni Maggi & Andrés Rodríguez-Clare, 2007. "A Political-Economy Theory of Trade Agreements," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 97(4), pages 1374-1406, September.
  4. James A. Robinson & Ragnar Torvik & Thierry Verdier, 2003. "Politcal Foundations of the Resource Curse," DELTA Working Papers 2003-33, DELTA (Ecole normale supérieure).
  5. Fearon, James D., 1995. "Rationalist explanations for war," International Organization, Cambridge University Press, vol. 49(03), pages 379-414, June.
  6. Sylvain Chassang & Gerard Padro i Miquel, 2008. "Conflict and Deterrence under Strategic Risk," NBER Working Papers 13964, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  7. Luca Anderlini & Dino Gerardi & Roger Lagunoff, 2010. "Social Memory, Evidence, and Conflict," Review of Economic Dynamics, Elsevier for the Society for Economic Dynamics, vol. 13(3), pages 559-574, July.
  8. Pindyck, Robert S, 1978. "The Optimal Exploration and Production of Nonrenewable Resources," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 86(5), pages 841-61, October.
  9. Michelle R. Garfinkel & Stergios Skaperdas & Constantinos Syropoulos, 2009. "International Trade and Transnational Insecurity: How Comparative Advantage and Power are Jointly Determined," CESifo Working Paper Series 2680, CESifo Group Munich.
  10. Konstantin Sonin, 2008. "A Theory of Brinkmanship, Conflicts, and Commitments," Journal of Law, Economics and Organization, Oxford University Press, vol. 24(1), pages 163-183, May.
  11. Joan Esteban & Debraj Ray, 2008. "On the Salience of Ethnic Conflict," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 98(5), pages 2185-2202, December.
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Cited by:
  1. Torfinn Harding & James Cust, 2013. "Institutions and the Location of Oil Exploration," Economics Series Working Papers OxCarre Research Paper 12, University of Oxford, Department of Economics.
  2. Garfinkel , Michelle & Skaperdas, Stergios & Syropoulos, Constantinos, 2012. "Trade and Insecure Resources: Implications for Welfare and Comparative Advantage," School of Economics Working Paper Series 2012-8, LeBow College of Business, Drexel University.
  3. Rick van der Ploeg & Dominic Rohner, 2010. "War and Natural Resource Exploitation," OxCarre Working Papers 042, Oxford Centre for the Analysis of Resource Rich Economies, University of Oxford.
  4. Caselli, Francesco & Morelli, Massimo & Rohner, Dominic, 2013. "The Geography of Inter-State Resource Wars," CEPR Discussion Papers 9440, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  5. Frederick van der Ploeg, 2012. "Resource Wars and Confiscation Risk," OxCarre Working Papers 097, Oxford Centre for the Analysis of Resource Rich Economies, University of Oxford.
  6. Michelle R. Garfinkel & Stergios Skaperdas & Constantinos Syropoulos, 2011. "Trade and Insecure Resources," Working Papers 111201, University of California-Irvine, Department of Economics, revised Sep 2013.

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