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Economic Shocks and Conflict: Evidence from Commodity Prices

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Listed:
  • Samuel Bazzi
  • Christopher Blattman

Abstract

Higher national incomes are correlated with political stability. Is this relationship causal? We test three theories linking income to conflict with new data on export price shocks. Price shocks have no effect on new conflict, even large shocks in high-risk nations. Rising prices, however, weakly lead to shorter, less deadly wars. This evidence contradicts the theory that rising state revenues incentivize state capture, but supports the idea that rising revenues improve counterinsurgency capacity and reduce individual incentives to fight in existing conflicts. Conflict onset and continuation follow different processes. Ignoring this time dependence generates mistaken conclusions about income and instability.

Suggested Citation

  • Samuel Bazzi & Christopher Blattman, 2014. "Economic Shocks and Conflict: Evidence from Commodity Prices," American Economic Journal: Macroeconomics, American Economic Association, vol. 6(4), pages 1-38, October.
  • Handle: RePEc:aea:aejmac:v:6:y:2014:i:4:p:1-38
    Note: DOI: 10.1257/mac.6.4.1
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Paul Cashin & Hong Liang & C. John McDermott, 2000. "How Persistent Are Shocks to World Commodity Prices?," IMF Staff Papers, Palgrave Macmillan, vol. 47(2), pages 1-2.
    2. Kalina Manova & Zhiwei Zhang, 2012. "Export Prices Across Firms and Destinations," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 127(1), pages 379-436.
    3. Montfort Mlachila & Paul Cashin & Cleary Haines, 2013. "Caribbean bananas: The macroeconomic impact of trade preference erosion," The Journal of International Trade & Economic Development, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 22(2), pages 253-280, March.
    4. Paul Cashin & C. John McCDermott, 2002. "The Long-Run Behavior of Commodity Prices: Small Trends and Big Variability," IMF Staff Papers, Palgrave Macmillan, vol. 49(2), pages 1-2.
    5. Antonio Ciccone, 2011. "Economic Shocks and Civil Conflict: A Comment," American Economic Journal: Applied Economics, American Economic Association, vol. 3(4), pages 215-227, October.
    6. Antonio Ciccone, 2013. "Estimating the Effect of Transitory Economic Shocks on Civil Conflict," Review of Economics and Institutions, Università di Perugia, vol. 4(2).
    7. World Bank, 2009. "World Development Indicators 2009," World Bank Publications, The World Bank, number 4367, June.
    8. Deaton, Angus & Miller, Ron, 1996. "International Commodity Prices, Macroeconomic Performance and Politics in Sub-Saharan Africa," Journal of African Economies, Centre for the Study of African Economies (CSAE), vol. 5(3), pages 99-191, October.
    9. Nuxoll, Daniel A, 1994. "Differences in Relative Prices and International Differences in Growth Rates," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 84(5), pages 1423-1436, December.
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    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • D72 - Microeconomics - - Analysis of Collective Decision-Making - - - Political Processes: Rent-seeking, Lobbying, Elections, Legislatures, and Voting Behavior
    • D74 - Microeconomics - - Analysis of Collective Decision-Making - - - Conflict; Conflict Resolution; Alliances; Revolutions
    • O13 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Agriculture; Natural Resources; Environment; Other Primary Products
    • O17 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Formal and Informal Sectors; Shadow Economy; Institutional Arrangements
    • O19 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - International Linkages to Development; Role of International Organizations
    • Q02 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - General - - - Commodity Market
    • Q34 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Nonrenewable Resources and Conservation - - - Natural Resources and Domestic and International Conflicts

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