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Leave none to claim the land

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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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    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. De Luca, Giacomo & Sekeris, Petros G. & Spengler, Dominic E., 2018. "Can violence harm cooperation? Experimental evidence," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 90(C), pages 342-359.
    2. Guariso Andrea & Verpoorten Marijke, 2019. "Armed Conflict and Schooling in Rwanda: Digging Deeper," Peace Economics, Peace Science, and Public Policy, De Gruyter, vol. 25(1), pages 1-40, February.
    3. Anderton Charles H., 2020. "The other virus: Covid-19 and violence against civilians," Peace Economics, Peace Science, and Public Policy, De Gruyter, vol. 26(3), pages 1-09, September.
    4. Marijke Verpoorten, 2014. "Growth, poverty and inequality in Rwanda: a broad perspective," Working Papers of LICOS - Centre for Institutions and Economic Performance 490896, KU Leuven, Faculty of Economics and Business (FEB), LICOS - Centre for Institutions and Economic Performance.
    5. Becker, Sascha O & Mukand, Sharun & Yotzov, Ivan, 2022. "Persecution, Pogroms and Genocide : A Conceptual Framework and New Evidence," The Warwick Economics Research Paper Series (TWERPS) 1421, University of Warwick, Department of Economics.
    6. 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.
    7. Bonnier, Evelina & Poulsen, Jonas & Rogall, Thorsten & Stryjan, Miri, 2020. "Preparing for genocide: Quasi-experimental evidence from Rwanda," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 147(C).
    8. Guariso, Andrea & Verpoorten, Marijke, 2015. "Aid, Trad and Post-War Recovery of the Rwandan Coffee Sector," 2015 Conference, August 9-14, 2015, Milan, Italy 211693, International Association of Agricultural Economists.
    9. 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.
    10. Fernihough, Alan & Ó Gráda, Cormac, 2018. "Population and poverty in Ireland on the eve of the Great Famine," QUCEH Working Paper Series 2018-13, Queen's University Belfast, Queen's University Centre for Economic History.
    11. Piotr Lis & Michael Spagat & Uih Ran Lee, 2021. "Civilian targeting in African conflicts: A poor actor’s game that spreads through space," Journal of Peace Research, Peace Research Institute Oslo, vol. 58(5), pages 900-914, September.
    12. Dickson, Alex & MacKenzie, Ian A. & Sekeris, Petros G., 2018. "Rent-seeking incentives in share contests," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 166(C), pages 53-62.
    13. Cormac Ó Gráda, 2018. "The Next World and the New World: Relief, Migration, and the Great Irish Famine," Working Papers 201821, School of Economics, University College Dublin.
    14. 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.
    15. Marijke Verpoorten, 2014. "Growth, poverty and inequality in Rwanda: a broad perspective," Working Papers of LICOS - Centre for Institutions and Economic Performance 490896, KU Leuven, Faculty of Economics and Business (FEB), LICOS - Centre for Institutions and Economic Performance.
    16. Kati Kraehnert & Tilman Brück & Michele Di Maio & Roberto Nisticò, 2019. "The Effects of Conflict on Fertility: Evidence From the Genocide in Rwanda," Demography, Springer;Population Association of America (PAA), vol. 56(3), pages 935-968, June.
    17. Ingelaere, Bert & Verpoorten, Marijke, 2016. "Inter-ethnic trust in the aftermath of mass violence: insights from large-N life histories," IOB Working Papers 2016.03, Universiteit Antwerpen, Institute of Development Policy (IOB).
    18. Sebastian Heinen, 2021. "Rwanda's Agricultural Transformation Revisited: Stagnating Food Production, Systematic Overestimation, and a Flawed Performance Contract System," Working Papers 242, Department of Economics, SOAS University of London, UK.
    19. Guariso Andrea & Verpoorten Marijke, 2019. "Armed Conflict and Schooling in Rwanda: Digging Deeper," Peace Economics, Peace Science, and Public Policy, De Gruyter, vol. 25(1), pages 1-40, February.
    20. Cyanne E Loyle & Christian Davenport, 2020. "Some left to tell the tale: Finding perpetrators and understanding violence in Rwanda," Journal of Peace Research, Peace Research Institute Oslo, vol. 57(4), pages 507-520, July.
    21. Desiere, Sam & D'Haese, Marijke, 2015. "Boserup versus Malthis: does population pressure drive agricultural intensification? Evidence from Burundi," 2015 Conference, August 9-14, 2015, Milan, Italy 211571, International Association of Agricultural Economists.

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