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Population Size and Civil Conflict Risk: Is There A Causal Link?


  • Markus Bruckner

    (Universitat de Barcelona)


Does an expansion of the population size expose nation states to a higher risk of suffering from civil conflict? Obtaining empirical evidence for a causal relationship is difficult due to reverse effects and omitted variable bias. This paper addresses causality issues by using randomly occurring drought as an instrumental variable to generate exogenous variation in population size for a panel of 37 Sub-Saharan countries over the period 1981- 2004. Instrumental variable estimates yield that a one percentage point increase in population size raises the risk of civil conflict by over 5.2 percentage points.

Suggested Citation

  • Markus Bruckner, 2009. "Population Size and Civil Conflict Risk: Is There A Causal Link?," Working Papers in Economics 211, Universitat de Barcelona. Espai de Recerca en Economia.
  • Handle: RePEc:bar:bedcje:2009211

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Joshua D. Angrist & Alan B. Krueger, 2001. "Instrumental Variables and the Search for Identification: From Supply and Demand to Natural Experiments," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 15(4), pages 69-85, Fall.
    2. Alberto Alesina & Enrico Spolaore, 1997. "On the Number and Size of Nations," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 112(4), pages 1027-1056.
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    6. Angus Deaton, 2005. "ERRATUM: Measuring Poverty in a Growing World (or Measuring Growth in a Poor World)," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 87(2), pages 395-395, May.
    7. Antonio Ciccone, 2011. "Economic Shocks and Civil Conflict: A Comment," American Economic Journal: Applied Economics, American Economic Association, vol. 3(4), pages 215-227, October.
    8. Brückner, Markus & Ciccone, Antonio, 2007. "Growth, Democracy, and Civil War," CEPR Discussion Papers 6568, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    9. Jose G. Montalvo & Marta Reynal-Querol, 2007. "Fighting against Malaria: Prevent Wars while Waiting for the "Miraculous" Vaccine," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 89(1), pages 165-177, February.
    10. Alesina, Alberto & Spolaore, Enrico, 2006. "Conflict, defense spending, and the number of nations," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 50(1), pages 91-120, January.
    11. Fuller, Wayne A, 1977. "Some Properties of a Modification of the Limited Information Estimator," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 45(4), pages 939-953, May.
    12. Alesina, Alberto & Spolaore, Enrico, 2005. "War, peace, and the size of countries," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 89(7), pages 1333-1354, July.
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    14. Markus Brückner & Antonio Ciccone, 2010. "International Commodity Prices, Growth and the Outbreak of Civil War in Sub-Saharan Africa," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 120(544), pages 519-534, May.
    15. Stock, James H & Wright, Jonathan H & Yogo, Motohiro, 2002. "A Survey of Weak Instruments and Weak Identification in Generalized Method of Moments," Journal of Business & Economic Statistics, American Statistical Association, vol. 20(4), pages 518-529, October.
    16. 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.
    17. Heston, Alan, 1994. "A brief review of some problems in using national accounts data in level of output comparisons and growth studies," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 44(1), pages 29-52, June.
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    Cited by:

    1. Brückner, Markus & Gradstein, Mark, 2013. "Effects of transitory shocks to aggregate output on consumption in poor countries," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 91(2), pages 343-357.
    2. Jean-François Maystadt & Margherita Calderone & Liangzhi You, 2015. "Local warming and violent conflict in North and South Sudan," Journal of Economic Geography, Oxford University Press, vol. 15(3), pages 649-671.
    3. Maystadt, Jean-François & Trinh Tan, Jean-François & Breisinger, Clemens, 2014. "Does food security matter for transition in Arab countries?," Food Policy, Elsevier, vol. 46(C), pages 106-115.
    4. Cervellati, Matteo & Sunde, Uwe & Valmori, Simona, 2011. "Disease Environment and Civil Conflicts," IZA Discussion Papers 5614, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    5. repec:ipg:wpaper:2013-017 is not listed on IDEAS
    6. Lin, Faqin & Sim, Nicholas C.S., 2014. "Baltic Dry Index and the democratic window of opportunity," Journal of Comparative Economics, Elsevier, vol. 42(1), pages 143-159.
    7. Jean-Francois Maystadt & Olivier Ecker & Athur Mabiso, 2013. "Extreme Weather and Civil War in Somalia: Does Drought Fuel Conflict through Livestock Price Shocks?," LICOS Discussion Papers 32613, LICOS - Centre for Institutions and Economic Performance, KU Leuven.
    8. repec:hal:cesptp:halshs-00962481 is not listed on IDEAS
    9. Davide Fiaschi, 2009. "Natural Resources, Social Conflict and Poverty Trap," Discussion Papers 2009/82, Dipartimento di Economia e Management (DEM), University of Pisa, Pisa, Italy.
    10. Luca Marchiori & Jean Francois Maystadt & Ingmar Schumacher, 2013. "Is environmentally," Working Papers 2013-17, Department of Research, Ipag Business School.
    11. Bjorvatn, Kjetil & Farzanegan, Mohammad Reza, 2013. "Demographic Transition in Resource Rich Countries: A Blessing or a Curse?," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 45(C), pages 337-351.
    12. Ludwig, Markus, 2013. "Youth Bulge and Mid-Life Moderation: Large Cohort Size Effects, Economic Perspectives and Civil Conflict in Sub-Saharan Africa," MPRA Paper 53088, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    13. Qiang Chen, 2015. "Climate Shocks, State Capacity and Peasant Uprisings in North China during 25–1911 ce," Economica, London School of Economics and Political Science, vol. 82(326), pages 295-318, April.
    14. Jean-François Maystadt & Olivier Ecker, 2014. "Extreme Weather and Civil War: Does Drought Fuel Conflict in Somalia through Livestock Price Shocks?," American Journal of Agricultural Economics, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association, vol. 96(4), pages 1157-1182.
    15. repec:ipg:wpaper:17 is not listed on IDEAS
    16. Janus, Thorsten & Riera-Crichton, Daniel, 2015. "Economic shocks, civil war and ethnicity," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 115(C), pages 32-44.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • Q0 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - General
    • P0 - Economic Systems - - General
    • O55 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economywide Country Studies - - - Africa
    • O10 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - General

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