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Poverty and Civil War: Revisiting the Evidence

  • Simeon Djankov

    (World Bank and CEPR)

  • Marta Reynal-Querol

    (ICREA, Universitat Pompeu Fabra, CEPR, and CESifo)

Previous research has interpreted the correlation between per capita income and civil war as evidence that poverty is a main determinant of conflict. In this paper, we find that the relationship between poverty and civil war is spurious and is accounted for by historical phenomena that jointly determine income evolution and conflict. In particular, the statistical association between poverty and civil wars disappears once we include country fixed effects. Also, using cross-section data for 1960 to 2000, we find that once historical variables like European settler mortality rates and the population density in 1500 are included in civil war regressions, poverty does not have an effect on civil wars. These results are confirmed using longer time series from 1825 to 2000. (c) 2010 The President and Fellows of Harvard College and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

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Article provided by MIT Press in its journal The Review of Economics and Statistics.

Volume (Year): 92 (2010)
Issue (Month): 4 (November)
Pages: 1035-1041

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Handle: RePEc:tpr:restat:v:92:y:2010:i:4:p:1035-1041
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  1. Montalvo, Jose G. & Reynal-Querol, Marta, 2005. "Ethnic diversity and economic development," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 76(2), pages 293-323, April.
  2. Acemoglu, Daron & Johnson, Simon & Robinson, James A & Yared, Pierre, 2007. "Reevaluating the Modernization Hypothesis," CEPR Discussion Papers 6430, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  3. José Garcia Montalvo & Marta Reynal-Querol, 2004. "Ethnic polarization, potential conflict and civil wars," Economics Working Papers 770, Department of Economics and Business, Universitat Pompeu Fabra, revised Mar 2005.
  4. Acemoglu, Daron & Johnson, Simon & Robinson, James A & Yared, Pierre, 2005. "Income and Democracy," CEPR Discussion Papers 5273, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  5. Jos� G. Montalvo & Marta Reynal-Querol, 2005. "Ethnic Polarization, Potential Conflict, and Civil Wars," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 95(3), pages 796-816, June.
  6. Alberto Abadie, 2004. "Poverty, Political Freedom, and the Roots of Terrorism," NBER Working Papers 10859, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  7. Alan B. Krueger & Jitka Maleckova, 2003. "Education, Poverty and Terrorism: Is There a Causal Connection?," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 17(4), pages 119-144, Fall.
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