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Civil War

In: Handbook of Defense Economics

Author

Listed:
  • Collier, Paul
  • Hoeffler, Anke

Abstract

Civil wars are intricate social, political and psychological phenomena. However, economics can offer analytical insights which are useful alongside the more conventional approach of case-studies. Indeed, the policy conclusions drawn from economic analysis sometimes cast doubt on conventional advice. The use of economic theory and statistical evidence help to guard against excessive generalization from individual civil wars that inevitably suffer from both a surfeit of possible explanations and advocacy. Rigorous empirical study of civil war requires a precise definition of an imprecise and poorly observed phenomenon, a process that provides considerable room for legitimate disagreement. Hence, we begin by discussing the choices made in constructing the major data sets that describe the duration and severity of civil wars. Ideological, religious or ethnic differences are conventionally regarded as the causes of civil war. Economic theory explains civil war in the framework of incentives and constraints rather than ideologies or identities. This framework enables economists to analyze the distinctive feature of civil war: the emergence and persistence of a rebel army: some conditions make rebellion both more attractive and more feasible than others. Consistent with this emphasis on incentives and constraints, statistical studies suggest that economic characteristics, notably the level, growth and structure of income, are important influences on the risk of war. In addition to the explanation of the initiation and duration of civil wars, economic methods can also generate estimates of their costs and consequences. This is an essential step towards the cost-benefit analysis of policy interventions.

Suggested Citation

  • Collier, Paul & Hoeffler, Anke, 2007. "Civil War," Handbook of Defense Economics, in: Keith Hartley & Todd Sandler (ed.), Handbook of Defense Economics, edition 1, volume 2, chapter 23, pages 711-739, Elsevier.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:hdechp:2-23
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    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. Aguirre, Alvaro, 2016. "The risk of civil conflicts as a determinant of political institutions," European Journal of Political Economy, Elsevier, vol. 42(C), pages 36-59.
    2. World Bank, 2012. "Republic of Yemen - Joint Social and Economic Assessment," World Bank Publications - Reports 12284, The World Bank Group.
    3. Christopher Blattman & Edward Miguel, 2009. "Civil War: A Review of Fifty Years of Research," Working Papers id:2231, eSocialSciences.
    4. Tridimas, George, 2011. "The political economy of power-sharing," European Journal of Political Economy, Elsevier, vol. 27(2), pages 328-342, June.
    5. Berazneva, Julia & Lee, David R., 2013. "Explaining the African food riots of 2007–2008: An empirical analysis," Food Policy, Elsevier, vol. 39(C), pages 28-39.
    6. Klaus Friesenbichler, 2013. "Firm Growth in Conflict Countries: Some Evidence from South Asia," Review of Economics & Finance, Better Advances Press, Canada, vol. 3, pages 33-44, May.
    7. Albornoz, Facundo & Hauk, Esther, 2014. "Civil war and U.S. foreign influence," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 110(C), pages 64-78.
    8. Christopher Blattman & Edward Miguel, 2010. "Civil War," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 48(1), pages 3-57, March.
    9. D'Souza, Anna, 2014. "Conflict and Trade: Implications for Agriculture and Food Security," 2014: Food, Resources and Conflict, December 7-9, 2014. San Diego, California 197200, International Agricultural Trade Research Consortium.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Defense in a Globalized World;

    JEL classification:

    • H56 - Public Economics - - National Government Expenditures and Related Policies - - - National Security and War

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