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Population and Conflict


  • Daron Acemoglu
  • Leopoldo Fergusson
  • Simon Johnson


Medical innovations during the 1940s quickly resulted in significant health improvements around the world. Countries with initially higher mortality from infectious diseases experienced larger increases in life expectancy, population, and subsequent social conflict. This cross-country result is robust across alternative measures of conflict and is not driven by differential trends between countries with varying baseline characteristics. A similar effect is also present within Mexico. Initial suitability conditions for malaria varied across municipalities, and anti-malaria campaigns had differential effects on population growth and social conflict. Both across countries and within Mexico, increased conflict over scarce resources predominates and this effect is more pronounced during times of economic hardship (specifically, in countries with a poor growth record and in drought-stricken areas in Mexico). At least during this time period, a larger increase in population made social conflict more likely.

Suggested Citation

  • Daron Acemoglu & Leopoldo Fergusson & Simon Johnson, 2020. "Population and Conflict," The Review of Economic Studies, Review of Economic Studies Ltd, vol. 87(4), pages 1565-1604.
  • Handle: RePEc:oup:restud:v:87:y:2020:i:4:p:1565-1604.

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    9. Rivas, Javier, 2023. "Regime change and critical junctures," European Journal of Political Economy, Elsevier, vol. 76(C).
    10. Karpavicius, Luiza & Chimeli, Ariaster, 2023. "Forest Protection and Human Health: The Case of Malaria in the Brazilian Amazon," TD NEREUS 6-2023, Núcleo de Economia Regional e Urbana da Universidade de São Paulo (NEREUS).
    11. Yin, Xingbo & Zong, Xiaohua, 2022. "International student mobility spurs scientific research on foreign countries: Evidence from international students studying in China," Journal of Informetrics, Elsevier, vol. 16(1).
    12. Depetris-Chauvin, Emilio & Özak, Ömer, 2023. "(De facto) Historical Ethnic Borders and Contemporary Conflict in Africa," MPRA Paper 116868, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    13. Castells-Quintana, David & Lopez-Uribe, Maria del Pilar & McDermott, Thomas K.J., 2022. "Population displacement and urban conflict: Global evidence from more than 3300 flood events," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 158(C).
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    15. Bharati, Tushar & Jetter, Michael & Malik, Muhammad Nauman, 2022. "Types of Communications Technology and Civil Conflict," IZA Discussion Papers 15311, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
    16. Luiza M Karpavicius & Ariaster Chimeli, 2023. "Forest Protection and Human Health: The Case of Malaria in the Brazilian Amazon," Working Papers, Department of Economics 2023_08, University of São Paulo (FEA-USP), revised 26 Jul 2023.
    17. Anna Balestra & Raul Caruso, 2024. "Education and Military Expenditures: Countervailing Forces in Designing Economic Policy. A Contribution to the Empirics of Peace," DISCE - Quaderni del Dipartimento di Politica Economica dipe0035, Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore, Dipartimenti e Istituti di Scienze Economiche (DISCE).
    18. Trung V. Vu, 2023. "State history and political instability: The disadvantage of early state development," Kyklos, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 76(3), pages 351-379, August.
    19. Urbano, David & Felix, Claudia & Aparicio, Sebastian, 2021. "Informal institutions and leadership behavior in a developing country: A comparison between rural and urban areas," Journal of Business Research, Elsevier, vol. 132(C), pages 544-556.
    20. Halkos, George E. & Aslanidis, Panagiotis – Stavros C., 2023. "Sustainable energy development in an era of geopolitical multi-crisis. Applying productivity indices within institutional framework," Resources Policy, Elsevier, vol. 85(PB).
    21. Emilio Depetris-Chauvin & Ömer Özak, 2023. "(De facto) Historical Ethnic Borders and Land Tenure in Africa," Documentos de Trabajo 573, Instituto de Economia. Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile..
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    24. Eva O. Arceo-Gómez & Danae Hernández-Cortés & Alejandro López-Feldman, 2020. "Droughts and rural households’ wellbeing: evidence from Mexico," Climatic Change, Springer, vol. 162(3), pages 1197-1212, October.


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