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Renewable Resource Shocks and Conflict in India’s Maoist Belt


  • Devash Kapur, Kishore Gawande, Shanker Satyanath


Is there a causal relationship between shocks to renewable natural resources, such as agricultural and forest lands, and the intensity of conflict? In this paper, we conduct a rigorous econometric analysis of a civil conflict that the Indian Prime Minister has called the single biggest internal security challenge ever faced by his country, the so-called Maoist conflict. We focus on over-time within-district variation in the intensity of conflict in the states where this conflict is primarily located. Using a novel data set of killings, we find that adverse renewable resource shocks have a robust, significant association with the intensity of conflict. A one standard deviation decrease in our measure of renewable resources increases killings by 12.5 percent contemporaneously, 9.7 percent after a year, and 42.2 percent after two years. Our instrumental variables strategy allows us to interpret these findings in a causal manner.

Suggested Citation

  • Devash Kapur, Kishore Gawande, Shanker Satyanath, 2012. "Renewable Resource Shocks and Conflict in India’s Maoist Belt," Working Papers 302, Center for Global Development.
  • Handle: RePEc:cgd:wpaper:302

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Borooah, Vani, 2008. "Deprivation, Violence, and Conflict: An Analysis of Naxalite Activity in the Districts of India," MPRA Paper 19425, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    2. Oeindrila Dube & Juan F. Vargas, 2013. "Commodity Price Shocks and Civil Conflict: Evidence from Colombia," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 80(4), pages 1384-1421.
    3. Anjali Thomas Bohlken & Ernest John Sergenti, 2010. "Economic growth and ethnic violence: An empirical investigation of Hindu—Muslim riots in India," Journal of Peace Research, Peace Research Institute Oslo, vol. 47(5), pages 589-600, September.
    4. Marcelo J. Moreira, 2003. "A Conditional Likelihood Ratio Test for Structural Models," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 71(4), pages 1027-1048, July.
    5. Hemanshu Kumar & Rohini Somanathan, 2009. "Mapping Indian Districts Across Census Years, 1971-2001," Working papers 176, Centre for Development Economics, Delhi School of Economics.
    6. Amita Shah & Sajitha O.G., 2009. "Dwindling forest resources and economic vulnerability among tribal communities in a dry| sub-humid region in India," Journal of International Development, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 21(3), pages 419-432.
    7. Oliver Vanden Eynde, 2015. "Targets of violence: evidence from India's Naxalite conflict," PSE Working Papers halshs-01202689, HAL.
    8. Jha, Saumitra & Wilkinson, Steven, 2012. "Veterans, Organizational Skill and Ethnic Cleansing: Evidence from the Partition of South Asia," Research Papers 2092, Stanford University, Graduate School of Business.
    9. Nickell, Stephen J, 1981. "Biases in Dynamic Models with Fixed Effects," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 49(6), pages 1417-1426, November.
    10. Das, Nimai, 2010. "Incidence of forest income on reduction of inequality: Evidence from forest dependent households in milieu of joint forest management," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 69(8), pages 1617-1625, June.
    11. Frank Kleibergen, 2002. "Pivotal Statistics for Testing Structural Parameters in Instrumental Variables Regression," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 70(5), pages 1781-1803, September.
    12. Gomes, Joseph Flavian, 2015. "The Political Economy of the Maoist Conflict in India: An Empirical Analysis," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 68(C), pages 96-123.
    13. 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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    Cited by:

    1. Sofia Amaral & Siddhartha Bandyopadhyay & Rudra Sensarma, 2014. "Determinants Of Crime Across Conflict And Non-Conflict States In India," Working papers 146, Indian Institute of Management Kozhikode.
    2. Gomes, Joseph Flavian, 2015. "The Political Economy of the Maoist Conflict in India: An Empirical Analysis," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 68(C), pages 96-123.
    3. Thiemo Fetzer, 2014. "Can Workfare Programs Moderate Violence? Evidence from India," STICERD - Economic Organisation and Public Policy Discussion Papers Series 53, Suntory and Toyota International Centres for Economics and Related Disciplines, LSE.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • Q00 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - General - - - General
    • Q01 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - General - - - Sustainable Development
    • Q34 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Nonrenewable Resources and Conservation - - - Natural Resources and Domestic and International Conflicts


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