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Does Conflict Beget Conflict? Explaining Recurring Civil War

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  • Barbara F. Walter

    (Graduate School of International Relations and Pacific Studies, University of California, San Diego, bfwalter@ucsd.edu)

Abstract

This article attempts to explain why some countries experience civil wars while others do not. It argues that renewed war is likely to have less to do with the attributes of a previous war, as many people have argued, than with current incentives individual citizens have to rejoin a rebel group. Civil wars will have little chance to get off the ground unless individual farmers, shopkeepers, and potential workers choose to enlist in the rebel armies that are necessary to pursue a war, and enlistment is only likely to be attractive when two conditions hold. The first is a situation of individual hardship or severe dissatisfaction with one’s current situation. The second is the absence of any nonviolent means for change. An analysis of all civil wars ending between 1945 and 1996 suggests that a higher quality of life and greater access to political participation have a significant negative effect on the likelihood of renewed war. Countries that provide higher levels of economic well-being to their citizenry and create an open political system are less likely to experience multiple civil wars regardless of what happened in a previous conflict.

Suggested Citation

  • Barbara F. Walter, 2004. "Does Conflict Beget Conflict? Explaining Recurring Civil War," Journal of Peace Research, Peace Research Institute Oslo, vol. 41(3), pages 371-388, May.
  • Handle: RePEc:sae:joupea:v:41:y:2004:i:3:p:371-388
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    Cited by:

    1. Tesfaye A. Gebremedhin & Astghik Mavisakalyan, 2013. "Immigration and Political Instability," Kyklos, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 66(3), pages 317-341, August.
    2. Anderton,Charles H. & Carter,John R., 2009. "Principles of Conflict Economics," Cambridge Books, Cambridge University Press, number 9780521875578, December.
    3. Addison, Tony, 2005. "Agricultural Development for Peace," WIDER Working Paper Series 007, World Institute for Development Economic Research (UNU-WIDER).
    4. Federico Barra & Claudia Berg & Philip Verwimp, 2018. "Violent Conflict, Transport Costs, and Poverty: An Instrumental Variables Approach with Geospatial Data for Nigeria," Working Papers ECARES 2018-30, ULB -- Universite Libre de Bruxelles.
    5. repec:oup:cesifo:v:64:y:2018:i:4:p:712-728. is not listed on IDEAS
    6. Enzo Nussio & Ben Oppenheim, 2013. "Trusting the Enemy: Confidence in the state among ex-combatants," HiCN Working Papers 144, Households in Conflict Network.
    7. Christopher Blattman & Edward Miguel, 2010. "Civil War," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 48(1), pages 3-57, March.
    8. Brahmachari, Deborshi, 2016. "Economic Determinants of Conflict - A proposal for North Eastern States of India," MPRA Paper 75400, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    9. Christopher Blattman & Edward Miguel, 2009. "Civil War: A Review of Fifty Years of Research," Working Papers id:2231, eSocialSciences.
    10. Fjelde, Hanne, 2015. "Farming or Fighting? Agricultural Price Shocks and Civil War in Africa," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 67(C), pages 525-534.
    11. Raleigh, Clionadh, 2007. "Civil war risk in democratic and non-democratic neighborhoods," Policy Research Working Paper Series 4260, The World Bank.
    12. Adedokun, Ayokunu, 2017. "Post-conflict peacebuilding: A critical survey of the literature and avenues for future research," MERIT Working Papers 016, United Nations University - Maastricht Economic and Social Research Institute on Innovation and Technology (MERIT).

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