IDEAS home Printed from
MyIDEAS: Login to save this article or follow this journal

Leave none to claim the land

  • Marijke Verpoorten


    (University of Antwerp & University of Leuven)

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.

If you experience problems downloading a file, check if you have the proper application to view it first. In case of further problems read the IDEAS help page. Note that these files are not on the IDEAS site. Please be patient as the files may be large.

File URL:
Download Restriction: no

Article provided by Peace Research Institute Oslo in its journal Journal of Peace Research.

Volume (Year): 49 (2012)
Issue (Month): 4 (July)
Pages: 547-563

in new window

Handle: RePEc:sae:joupea:v:49:y:2012:i:4:p:547-563
Contact details of provider: Web page:

No references listed on IDEAS
You can help add them by filling out this form.

This item is not listed on Wikipedia, on a reading list or among the top items on IDEAS.

When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:sae:joupea:v:49:y:2012:i:4:p:547-563. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (SAGE Publications)

If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.

If the full references list an item that is present in RePEc, but the system did not link to it, you can help with this form.

If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

This information is provided to you by IDEAS at the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis using RePEc data.