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Murder by Numbers: Socio-Economic Determinants of Homicide and Civil War

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  • Paul Collier
  • Anke Hoeffler

Abstract

Deliberate killing is a common part of the defining features of both homicide and civil war. Often, the scale of killing is also similar: most countries have homicide rates that exceed the threshold of one thousand combat-related deaths during a year that is the standard criterion for civil war. What is clearly different is the organization of killing: the perpetrators of homicide are usually individuals or small groups, whereas rebellion - the direct cause of a civil war - requires a cohesive group of at least several hundred killers. Beyond this, the motivation for the two types of killing may differ systematically, although evidently both homicide and rebellion have many different motivations, including error and irrationality. In this paper we investigate whether the socio-economic determinants of homicide and civil war are similar, and then explore potential inter-relationships between them. We compare our existing model of the risk of civil war with a new model of the homicide rate. We find that there is a ‘family resemblance’ between the two types of killing, but surprising differences. Furthermore, we turn to the inter-relationships between homicide and the risk of civil war. Specifically, we ask whether a high rate of homicide makes a country more prone to civil war, and whether a civil war makes a country more prone to homicide. Our results indicate that higher homicide rate do not increase the risk of war but that civil wars generate a legacy of increased post-conflict homicide rates.

Suggested Citation

  • Paul Collier & Anke Hoeffler, 2004. "Murder by Numbers: Socio-Economic Determinants of Homicide and Civil War," CSAE Working Paper Series 2004-10, Centre for the Study of African Economies, University of Oxford.
  • Handle: RePEc:csa:wpaper:2004-10
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    Cited by:

    1. Shoji, Masahiro, 2017. "Religious Fractionalisation and Crimes in Disaster-Affected Communities: Survey Evidence from Bangladesh," MPRA Paper 78702, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    2. Alexander Cotte Poveda, 2012. "Estimating Effectiveness of the Control of Violence and Socioeconomic Development in Colombia: An Application of Dynamic Data Envelopment Analysis and Data Panel Approach," Social Indicators Research: An International and Interdisciplinary Journal for Quality-of-Life Measurement, Springer, vol. 105(3), pages 343-366, February.
    3. Alexander Cotte Poveda, 2011. "Estimando la efectividad en el control de la violencia y el desarrollo socio-económico en Colombia," SERIE DE DOCUMENTOS EN ECONOMÍA Y VIOLENCIA 008079, CENTRO DE INVESTIGACIONES EN VIOLENCIA, INSTITUCIONES Y DESARROLLO ECONÓMICO (VIDE).
    4. Alexander Cotte Poveda, 2011. "Estimating Effectiveness of the Control of Violence and Socioeconomic Development in Colombia: An Application of DEA and Data Panel Approach," SERIE DE DOCUMENTOS EN ECONOMÍA Y VIOLENCIA 008356, CENTRO DE INVESTIGACIONES EN VIOLENCIA, INSTITUCIONES Y DESARROLLO ECONÓMICO (VIDE).
    5. Patricia Justino, 2009. "The Impact of Armed Civil Conflict on Household Welfare and Policy Responses," HiCN Working Papers 61, Households in Conflict Network.
    6. Daniel Lambach, 2007. "Oligopolies of Violence in Post-Conflict Societies," GIGA Working Paper Series 62, GIGA German Institute of Global and Area Studies.
    7. 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.

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    JEL classification:

    • O - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth
    • P - Economic Systems

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