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The Economic Origins of Conflict in Africa

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  • Eoin McGuirk
  • Marshall Burke

Abstract

We study the impact of global food price shocks on local violence across Africa. In food-producing areas, higher prices reduce conflict over the control of territory (“factor conflict”) and increase conflict over the appropriation of surplus (“output conflict”). We argue that this difference arises because higher prices increase the opportunity cost of soldiering for producers while simultaneously inducing consumers to appropriate surplus as real wages fall. In areas without crop agriculture, higher prices increase both forms of conflict. We validate our local-level findings on output conflict using survey data. Our findings help reconcile a growing but ambiguous literature on the economic roots of conflict.

Suggested Citation

  • Eoin McGuirk & Marshall Burke, 2020. "The Economic Origins of Conflict in Africa," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 128(10), pages 3940-3997.
  • Handle: RePEc:ucp:jpolec:doi:10.1086/709993
    DOI: 10.1086/709993
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    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • D74 - Microeconomics - - Analysis of Collective Decision-Making - - - Conflict; Conflict Resolution; Alliances; Revolutions
    • H56 - Public Economics - - National Government Expenditures and Related Policies - - - National Security and War
    • O10 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - General
    • O12 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Microeconomic Analyses of Economic Development

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