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The Economic Welfare Cost of Conflict: An Empirical Assessment

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  • Gregory D. Hess

Abstract

War, whether external or internal, large or small, is a costly endeavor. Loss of life, loss of close friends or family, and the destruction of material possessions all play a part in the costs of war. The purpose of this paper is to capture only the material, economic welfare costs of conflict stemming from the altered path of consumption resulting from conflict. As such, the measure is quite a lower bound for the true and more encompassing welfare loss from living in a non-peaceful world. But how much would individual be willing to pay to avoid just the economic costs of conflict? Remarkably, even these pure economic welfare losses from conflict are quite large. I find that, on average, individuals who live in a country that has experienced some conflict during the 1960-1992 sample would permanently give up to approximately 8 percent of their current level of consumption to live in a purely peaceful world. Such large potential welfare gains from reducing warfare should make economists and policy-makers take note, and continue to investigate and advocate for domestic and international institutions to realize such gains.

Suggested Citation

  • Gregory D. Hess, 2003. "The Economic Welfare Cost of Conflict: An Empirical Assessment," CESifo Working Paper Series 852, CESifo Group Munich.
  • Handle: RePEc:ces:ceswps:_852
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Im, Kyung So & Pesaran, M. Hashem & Shin, Yongcheol, 2003. "Testing for unit roots in heterogeneous panels," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 115(1), pages 53-74, July.
    2. Nickell, Stephen J, 1981. "Biases in Dynamic Models with Fixed Effects," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 49(6), pages 1417-1426, November.
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    Cited by:

    1. Reuven Glick & Alan M. Taylor, 2010. "Collateral Damage: Trade Disruption and the Economic Impact of War," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 92(1), pages 102-127, February.
    2. Garfinkel, Michelle R. & Skaperdas, Stergios & Syropoulos, Constantinos, 2015. "Trade and insecure resources," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 95(1), pages 98-114.
    3. Garfinkel, Michelle R. & Skaperdas, Stergios, 2007. "Economics of Conflict: An Overview," Handbook of Defense Economics, Elsevier.
    4. Ben-Gad, M. & Ben-Haim, Y. & Peled, D., 2015. "Allocating Security Expenditures under Knightian Uncertainty: an Info-Gap Approach," Working Papers 15/09, Department of Economics, City University London.
    5. Bove, Vincenzo & Gavrilova, Evelina, 2014. "Income and Livelihoods in the War in Afghanistan," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 60(C), pages 113-131.
    6. Carlos Bozzoli & Tilman Brueck & Tony Muhumuza, 2016. "Activity Choices Of Internally Displaced Persons And Returnees: Quantitative Survey Evidence From Post-War Northern Uganda," Bulletin of Economic Research, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 68(4), pages 329-347, October.
    7. Jose-Luis Evia & Roberto Laserna & Stergios Skaperdas, 2008. "Socio-Political Conflict and Economic Performance in Bolivia," CESifo Working Paper Series 2249, CESifo Group Munich.
    8. Garfinkel, Michelle R. & Skaperdas, Stergios & Syropoulos, Constantinos, 2008. "Globalization and domestic conflict," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 76(2), pages 296-308, December.
    9. Stéphane Auray & Aurélien Eyquem & Frédéric Jouneau-Sion, 2009. "Riots, Battles and Cycles," Cahiers de recherche 09-01, Departement d'Economique de l'École de gestion à l'Université de Sherbrooke, revised 05 Apr 2009.
    10. Michael McBride & Stergios Skaperdas, 2005. "Explaining Conflict in Low-Income Countries: Incomplete Contracting in the Shadow of the Future," CESifo Working Paper Series 1636, CESifo Group Munich.
    11. Bruno S. Frey & Simon Luechinger & Alois Stutzer, 2007. "Calculating Tragedy: Assessing The Costs Of Terrorism," Journal of Economic Surveys, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 21(1), pages 1-24, February.
    12. Stergios Skaperdas, 2011. "The costs of organized violence: a review of the evidence," Economics of Governance, Springer, vol. 12(1), pages 1-23, March.
    13. Michelle R. Garfinkel & Stergios Skaperdas & Constantinos Syropoulos, 2009. "International Trade and Transnational Insecurity: How Comparative Advantage and Power are Jointly Determined," Working Papers 080921, University of California-Irvine, Department of Economics.
    14. Robert J. Barro, 2009. "Rare Disasters, Asset Prices, and Welfare Costs," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 99(1), pages 243-264, March.
    15. Patricia Justino, 2009. "The Impact of Armed Civil Conflict on Household Welfare and Policy Responses," HiCN Working Papers 61, Households in Conflict Network.
    16. Blomberg, S. Brock & Hess, Gregory D. & Orphanides, Athanasios, 2004. "The macroeconomic consequences of terrorism," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 51(5), pages 1007-1032, July.
    17. Tilman Brück & Olaf J. De Groot, 2013. "The Economic Impact of Violent Conflict," Defence and Peace Economics, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 24(6), pages 497-501, December.
    18. Stergios Skaperdas, 2008. "An economic approach to analyzing civil wars," Economics of Governance, Springer, vol. 9(1), pages 25-44, January.
    19. Gupta, Sanjeev & Clements, Benedict & Bhattacharya, Rina & Chakravarti, Shamit, 2004. "Fiscal consequences of armed conflict and terrorism in low- and middle-income countries," European Journal of Political Economy, Elsevier, vol. 20(2), pages 403-421, June.
    20. Voigtländer, Nico & Voth, Hans-Joachim, 2009. "The Three Horsemen of Growth: Plague, War and Urbanization in Early Modern Europe," CEPR Discussion Papers 7275, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    21. Michelle R. Garfinkel & Stergios Skaperdas & Constantinos Syropoulos, 2008. "Globalization and Insecurity: Reviewing Some Basic Issues," Working Papers 080901, University of California-Irvine, Department of Economics.
    22. Patricia Justino, 2006. "On the Links between Violent Conflict and Chronic Poverty: How Much Do We Really Know?," HiCN Working Papers 18, Households in Conflict Network.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    growth; conflict; welfare costs;

    JEL classification:

    • E21 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Consumption, Saving, Production, Employment, and Investment - - - Consumption; Saving; Wealth
    • E32 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Prices, Business Fluctuations, and Cycles - - - Business Fluctuations; Cycles
    • H56 - Public Economics - - National Government Expenditures and Related Policies - - - National Security and War

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