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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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    References listed on IDEAS

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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. repec:cup:apsrev:v:97:y:2003:i:01:p:75-90_00 is not listed on IDEAS
    3. Alberto Abadie, 2006. "Poverty, Political Freedom, and the Roots of Terrorism," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 96(2), pages 50-56, May.
    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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    Cited by:

    1. Eoin McGuirk & Marshall Burke, 2017. "The Economic Origins of Conflict in Africa," NBER Working Papers 23056, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    2. Gabriel Leon, 2014. "Loyalty for sale? Military spending and coups d’etat," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 159(3), pages 363-383, June.
    3. 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.
    4. Becken, Susanne & Carmignani, Fabrizio, 2016. "Does tourism lead to peace?," Annals of Tourism Research, Elsevier, vol. 61(C), pages 63-79.
    5. Janus, Thorsten & Riera-Crichton, Daniel, 2015. "Economic shocks, civil war and ethnicity," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 115(C), pages 32-44.
    6. Antonio Ciccone, 2018. "International commodity prices and civil war outbreak: new evidence for Sub-Saharan Africa and beyond," Economics Working Papers 1596, Department of Economics and Business, Universitat Pompeu Fabra.
    7. 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.
    8. Serneels , Pieter & Verpoorten , Marijke, 2012. "The impact of armed conflict on economic performance. Evidence from Rwanda," NEPS Working Papers 5/2012, Network of European Peace Scientists.
    9. 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.
    10. Albornoz, Facundo & Hauk, Esther, 2014. "Civil war and U.S. foreign influence," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 110(C), pages 64-78.
    11. 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.
    12. Antonio Ciccone, 2018. "International Commodity Prices and Civil War Outbreak: New Evidence for Sub-Saharan Africa and Beyond," CESifo Working Paper Series 6866, CESifo Group Munich.
    13. Fenske, James & Kala, Namrata, 2017. "1807: Economic shocks, conflict and the slave trade," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 126(C), pages 66-76.
    14. 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.

    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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