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Drought and Civil War In Sub‐Saharan Africa

Author

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  • Mathieu Couttenier
  • Raphael Soubeyran

Abstract

According to the group of intergovernmental experts on Climate Change (GIEC), climate changes will generate an increase in the number of atypical climate events throughout the world, such as droughts and floods. These climate anomalies could have disastrous consequences for countries that experience problems accessing drinking water or whose economy depends on local agriculture. Some recent studies even assert that drought is one of the causes of civil war. The most emblematic case is Darfur, as the present consensus is that drought was one of the factors of civil war, although the conflict also had an ethnic component. In our study, we show that the link between precipitation, temperature and civil war found in the literature may be due to planetary impacts not linked to climate variations. The problem is due to the impossibility of distinguishing the effects of annual climate variations from other planetary phenomena such as large-scale political changes like the end of Cold War or global macro-economic variations like financial crises. When we consider this type of factors, precipitation and temperature variations have a much lower and non-significant effect on the risk of civil war. The use of the Palmer index, a local drought measure which describes the impact of the lack of water on social conflicts, shows in a more satisfactory way than precipitation and temperature measures that the drought effect on civil war is low but positive.
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Suggested Citation

  • Mathieu Couttenier & Raphael Soubeyran, 2014. "Drought and Civil War In Sub‐Saharan Africa," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 124(575), pages 201-244, March.
  • Handle: RePEc:wly:econjl:v:124:y:2014:i:575:p:201-244
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    File URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10.1111/ecoj.2014.124.issue-575
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    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. A. Colin Cameron & Jonah B. Gelbach & Douglas L. Miller, 2008. "Bootstrap-Based Improvements for Inference with Clustered Errors," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 90(3), pages 414-427, August.
    2. repec:cup:apsrev:v:97:y:2003:i:01:p:75-90_00 is not listed on IDEAS
    3. Peter Sandholt Jensen & Kristian Skrede Gleditsch, 2009. "Rain, Growth, And Civil War: The Importance Of Location," Defence and Peace Economics, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 20(5), pages 359-372, October.
    4. Marshall Burke & John Dykema & David Lobell & Edward Miguel & Shanker Satyanath, 2010. "Climate and Civil War: Is the Relationship Robust?," NBER Working Papers 16440, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    5. Marianne Bertrand & Esther Duflo & Sendhil Mullainathan, 2004. "How Much Should We Trust Differences-In-Differences Estimates?," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 119(1), pages 249-275.
    6. Paul Collier & Anke Hoeffler, 2004. "Greed and grievance in civil war," Oxford Economic Papers, Oxford University Press, vol. 56(4), pages 563-595, October.
    7. John Landon-Lane & Hugh Rockoff & Richard H. Steckel, 2011. "Droughts, Floods and Financial Distress in the United States," NBER Chapters,in: The Economics of Climate Change: Adaptations Past and Present, pages 73-98 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    8. Edward Miguel & Shanker Satyanath, 2011. "Re-examining Economic Shocks and Civil Conflict," American Economic Journal: Applied Economics, American Economic Association, vol. 3(4), pages 228-232, October.
    9. Edward Miguel & Shanker Satyanath & Ernest Sergenti, 2004. "Economic Shocks and Civil Conflict: An Instrumental Variables Approach," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 112(4), pages 725-753, August.
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    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • Q5 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Environmental Economics
    • Q58 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Environmental Economics - - - Environmental Economics: Government Policy

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