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An economic approach to analyzing civil wars

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  • Stergios Skaperdas

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Abstract

Civil wars and conflict can be understood from an economic point of view only if there is incomplete contracting. I examine such settings and first discuss sources of incomplete contracting, from geography and ethnic and social distance to external interventions due to geopolitics or the presence of rents. Yet, since war is destructive, the contending parties might normally be expected to settle in the shadow of war. One reason that sometimes they do not, contrary to conventional wisdom, is because the shadow of the future is too long. Subsequently, using a formal model for guidance I examine some consequences of civil wars and emphasize the role hierarchical organization and rents play in determining the severity of conflict.
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Suggested Citation

  • Stergios Skaperdas, 2008. "An economic approach to analyzing civil wars," Economics of Governance, Springer, vol. 9(1), pages 25-44, January.
  • Handle: RePEc:spr:ecogov:v:9:y:2008:i:1:p:25-44
    DOI: 10.1007/s10101-007-0043-2
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. Michael McBride & Stergios Skaperdas, 2005. "Explaining Conflict in Low-Income Countries: Incomplete Contracting in the Shadow of the Future," CESifo Working Paper Series 1636, CESifo Group Munich.
    2. Baten, Joerg & Mumme, Christina, 2013. "Does inequality lead to civil wars? A global long-term study using anthropometric indicators (1816–1999)," European Journal of Political Economy, Elsevier, vol. 32(C), pages 56-79.
    3. Christopher Blattman & Edward Miguel, 2009. "Civil War: A Review of Fifty Years of Research," Working Papers id:2231, eSocialSciences.
    4. Ahmed Mahmud & Juan Vargas, 2011. "Combatant recruitment and the outcome of war," Economics of Governance, Springer, vol. 12(1), pages 51-74, March.
    5. Tridimas, George, 2011. "The political economy of power-sharing," European Journal of Political Economy, Elsevier, vol. 27(2), pages 328-342, June.
    6. Horatiu Rus, 2014. "Corruption, conflict and the management of natural resources," Economics of Governance, Springer, vol. 15(4), pages 355-386, November.
    7. Noguera-Santaella, José, 2016. "Geopolitics and the oil price," Economic Modelling, Elsevier, vol. 52(PB), pages 301-309.
    8. Alexandros Apostolides & Michalis Zaouras & Alexis Antoniou, 2017. "Nationalism, policing and inequality: Understanding outbursts of violence using the 1931 Cyprus riots," Working Papers 17018, Economic History Society.
    9. Libman, Alexander Mikhailovich, 2009. "Эндогенные Границы И Распределение Власти В Федерациях И Международных Сообществах
      [ENDOGENOUS BOUNDARIES AND DISTRIBUTION OF POWER In the Federation]
      ," MPRA Paper 16473, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    10. Christopher Blattman & Edward Miguel, 2010. "Civil War," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 48(1), pages 3-57, March.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Warlords; Incomplete contracting; Conflict; Appropriation; Anarchy; Shadow of the future; D74; F5; H56; O40;

    JEL classification:

    • D74 - Microeconomics - - Analysis of Collective Decision-Making - - - Conflict; Conflict Resolution; Alliances; Revolutions
    • F5 - International Economics - - International Relations, National Security, and International Political Economy
    • H56 - Public Economics - - National Government Expenditures and Related Policies - - - National Security and War
    • O40 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Growth and Aggregate Productivity - - - General

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