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Leave none to claim the land

Author

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  • Marijke Verpoorten

    (University of Antwerp & University of Leuven)

Abstract

More than 200 years after its first publication, the Malthusian thesis is still much debated, albeit in a modified form. Rather than predicting a global catastrophe, most neo-Malthusians stress the local character of the relationship between population pressure, natural resource scarcity, and conflict as well as its dependency on the socio-political and economic context. This softened version of Malthus’s thesis has received little empirical support in cross-country studies. In contrast, a number of subnational analyses have provided some evidence for local conditional Malthusian catastrophes, although ‘catastrophe’ is a big word since these studies have largely focused on low-intensity violence. This article adds to the small body of subnational studies, but focuses on a high-intensity conflict – the Rwandan genocide. In particular, it provides a meso-level analysis of the relation between population pressure and the intensity of violence measured by the death toll among the Tutsi across 1,294 small administrative units. The results indicate that the death toll was significantly higher in localities with both high population density and little opportunity for young men to acquire land. This finding can be interpreted as support for the neo-Malthusian thesis. On the other hand, it is possible that another mechanism operated – in densely populated areas, it may have been relatively easy for the elite to mobilize the population, because of dependency relations through the land and labor market. Alternatively, in densely populated areas, there may have been more lootable assets, and the violence may have been opportunistic rather than driven by need or by fear.

Suggested Citation

  • Marijke Verpoorten, 2012. "Leave none to claim the land," Journal of Peace Research, Peace Research Institute Oslo, vol. 49(4), pages 547-563, July.
  • Handle: RePEc:sae:joupea:v:49:y:2012:i:4:p:547-563
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    File URL: http://jpr.sagepub.com/content/49/4/547.abstract
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    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. Verpoorten Marijke, 2012. "The Intensity of the Rwandan Genocide: Measures from the Gacaca Records," Peace Economics, Peace Science, and Public Policy, De Gruyter, vol. 18(1), pages 1-26, April.
    2. Andrea Guariso & Marijke Verpoorten, 2013. "Armed conflict and schooling in Rwanda: Digging deeper," LICOS Discussion Papers 34313, LICOS - Centre for Institutions and Economic Performance, KU Leuven.
    3. Ferrero Mario, 2013. "You Shall Not Overkill: Substitution Between Means of Group Removal," Peace Economics, Peace Science, and Public Policy, De Gruyter, vol. 19(3), pages 333-342, December.
    4. Verpoorten, Marijke, 2014. "Growth, poverty and inequality in Rwanda: A broad perspective," WIDER Working Paper Series 138, World Institute for Development Economic Research (UNU-WIDER).
    5. Bonnier, Evelina & Poulsen, Jonas & Rogall, Thorsten & Stryjan, Miri, 2015. "Preparing for Genocide: Community Work in Rwanda," Working Paper Series 2015:1, Uppsala University, Department of Economics.
    6. Desiere, Sam & D'Haese, Marijke, 2015. "Boserup versus Malthus: does population pressure drive agricultural intensification? Evidence from Burundi," 89th Annual Conference, April 13-15, 2015, Warwick University, Coventry, UK 204296, Agricultural Economics Society.
    7. Bonnier, Evelina & Poulsen, Jonas & Rogall, Thorsten & Stryjan, Miri, 2015. "Preparing for Genocide: Quasi-Experimental Evidence from Rwanda," SITE Working Paper Series 31, Stockholm School of Economics, Stockholm Institute of Transition Economics, revised 10 Nov 2016.

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