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Poverty and Civil War: Revisiting the evidence

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  • Djankov, Simeon
  • Reynal-Querol, Marta

Abstract

A popular "stylized fact" is that poverty is a main determinant of civil war: several scholars have interpreted the correlation between the two as evidence supporting this claim. In this paper, we find that the relationship between poverty and civil war is spurious, and is accounted for by historical phenomena that jointly determine income evolution and conflict. In particular, the statistical association between poverty, as proxied by income per capita, and civil wars disappears once we include country fixed effects. Also, using cross-section data for 1960-2005, we find that once historical variables like European settler mortality rates and the population density in 1500 are included in civil war regressions, poverty does not have an effect on civil wars. These results are confirmed using longer time series from 1825 to 2000.

Suggested Citation

  • Djankov, Simeon & Reynal-Querol, Marta, 2008. "Poverty and Civil War: Revisiting the evidence," CEPR Discussion Papers 6980, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  • Handle: RePEc:cpr:ceprdp:6980
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    1. José G. Montalvo & Marta Reynal-Querol, 2005. "Ethnic Polarization, Potential Conflict, and Civil Wars," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 95(3), pages 796-816, June.
    2. Fearon, James D. & Laitin, David D., 2003. "Ethnicity, Insurgency, and Civil War," American Political Science Review, Cambridge University Press, vol. 97(1), pages 75-90, February.
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    4. Daron Acemoglu & Simon Johnson & James A. Robinson & Pierre Yared, 2008. "Income and Democracy," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 98(3), pages 808-842, June.
    5. Alan B. Krueger & Jitka Maleckova, 2003. "Education, Poverty and Terrorism: Is There a Causal Connection?," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 17(4), pages 119-144, Fall.
    6. Acemoglu, Daron & Johnson, Simon & Robinson, James A. & Yared, Pierre, 2009. "Reevaluating the modernization hypothesis," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 56(8), pages 1043-1058, November.
    7. Montalvo, Jose G. & Reynal-Querol, Marta, 2005. "Ethnic diversity and economic development," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 76(2), pages 293-323, April.
    8. José Garcia Montalvo & Marta Reynal-Querol, 2004. "Ethnic polarization, potential conflict and civil wars," Economics Working Papers 770, Department of Economics and Business, Universitat Pompeu Fabra, revised Mar 2005.
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    As found by EconAcademics.org, the blog aggregator for Economics research:
    1. Conflicts and Economic Development
      by Dany Jaimovich - Bakary Baludin in Development Therapy on 2013-03-04 20:32:00

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    Cited by:

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    2. Ciccone, Antonio, 2018. "International Commodity Prices and Civil War Outbreak: New Evidence for Sub-Saharan Africa and Beyond," CEPR Discussion Papers 12625, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    3. Janus, Thorsten & Riera-Crichton, Daniel, 2015. "Economic shocks, civil war and ethnicity," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 115(C), pages 32-44.
    4. Roberto Ezcurra & Beatriz Manotas, 2015. "Does globalization promote civil war? An empirical research," Documentos de Trabajo - Lan Gaiak Departamento de Economía - Universidad Pública de Navarra 1501, Departamento de Economía - Universidad Pública de Navarra.
    5. Achim Ahrens, 2015. "Civil conflicts in Africa: Climate, economic shocks, nighttime lights and spill-over effects," SEEC Discussion Papers 1501, Spatial Economics and Econometrics Centre, Heriot Watt University.
    6. Devadas,Sharmila & Elbadawi,Ibrahim Ahmed & Loayza,Norman V., 2019. "Growth after War in Syria," Policy Research Working Paper Series 8967, The World Bank.
    7. Fenske, James & Kala, Namrata, 2017. "1807: Economic shocks, conflict and the slave trade," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 126(C), pages 66-76.
    8. 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.
    9. Pieter Serneels & Marijke Verpoorten, 2012. "The impact of armed conflict on economic performance: Evidence from Rwanda," CSAE Working Paper Series 2012-10, Centre for the Study of African Economies, University of Oxford.
    10. Richard S. J. Tol, 2016. "The Impacts Of Climate Change According To The Ipcc," Climate Change Economics (CCE), World Scientific Publishing Co. Pte. Ltd., vol. 7(01), pages 1-20, February.
    11. Eoin McGuirk & Marshall Burke, 2017. "The Economic Origins of Conflict in Africa," NBER Working Papers 23056, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    12. Loaiza Quintero, Osmar Leandro & Muñetón Santa, Guberney & Vanegas, Juan Gabriel, 2018. "Forced displacement and Multidimensional Poverty in Antioquia, Colombia: an assessment by means of a Seemingly Unrelated Regression," INVESTIGACIONES REGIONALES - Journal of REGIONAL RESEARCH, Asociación Española de Ciencia Regional, issue 41, pages 167-190.
    13. Becken, Susanne & Carmignani, Fabrizio, 2016. "Does tourism lead to peace?," Annals of Tourism Research, Elsevier, vol. 61(C), pages 63-79.
    14. Helge Holtermann, 2012. "Explaining the Development–Civil War Relationship," Conflict Management and Peace Science, Peace Science Society (International), vol. 29(1), pages 56-78, February.
    15. Travers B. Child & David Scoones, 2017. "Community preferences, insurgency, and the success of reconstruction spending," Defence and Peace Economics, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 28(1), pages 34-52, January.
    16. Albornoz, Facundo & Hauk, Esther, 2014. "Civil war and U.S. foreign influence," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 110(C), pages 64-78.
    17. Antonio Ciccone, 2018. "International Commodity Prices and Civil War Outbreak: New Evidence for Sub-Saharan Africa and Beyond," Working Papers 1016, Barcelona Graduate School of Economics.
    18. Eelco van der Maat, 2021. "Simplified complexity: Analytical strategies for conflict event research," Conflict Management and Peace Science, Peace Science Society (International), vol. 38(1), pages 87-108, January.

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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Civil War; Income;

    JEL classification:

    • O11 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Macroeconomic Analyses of Economic Development

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