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Civil War, Public Goods and the Social Wealth of Nations

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  • Kanbur, Ravi
  • Pottebaum, David

Abstract

This Paper establishes and explores the implications of a somewhat surprising empirical finding. Although civil war adversely affects the performance of social indicators in general, poorer countries lose less, in absolute and relative terms, than richer countries. It is argued that the explanation may lie in the extent to which richer countries have better social (and economic) indicators because of more public goods, and adaptation of economic and social mechanisms to the greater abundance of public goods such as physical infrastructure. Civil war destroys public goods, and therefore damages disproportionately the countries most dependent on them. A further implication of this framework is that the post-conflict rebound in social indicators should be relatively stronger in poorer countries. The data bear out this prediction. Our results should not of course be read as implying that poorer countries need less support to avoid civil war and to cope with its aftermath. Although their losses are less, they start from a lower base; so even small declines severely impact human well being. Properly understood, our results highlight the central role that public goods play in underpinning the social (and economic) wealth of nations

Suggested Citation

  • Kanbur, Ravi & Pottebaum, David, 2002. "Civil War, Public Goods and the Social Wealth of Nations," CEPR Discussion Papers 3124, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  • Handle: RePEc:cpr:ceprdp:3124
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Hatton, Timothy J. & Williamson, Jeffrey G., 2004. "Refugees, Asylum Seekers and Policy in Europe," IZA Discussion Papers 1230, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    2. Kanbur, Ravi & Pottebaum, David, 2002. "A note on public goods dependency," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 77(2), pages 233-237, October.
    3. Fabio Sánchez Torres & Ana María Díaz, 2005. "Los Efectos Del Conflicto Armado En El Desarrollo Social Colombiano, 1990-2002," DOCUMENTOS CEDE 003167, UNIVERSIDAD DE LOS ANDES-CEDE.
    4. Vidya Diwakar, 2015. "The Effect of Armed Conflict on Education: Evidence from Iraq," Journal of Development Studies, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 51(12), pages 1702-1718, December.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    civil war; post-conflict; public goods; social indicators;

    JEL classification:

    • H41 - Public Economics - - Publicly Provided Goods - - - Public Goods
    • O10 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - General
    • O15 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Economic Development: Human Resources; Human Development; Income Distribution; Migration

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