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Resource Discovery and Conflict in Africa: What Do the Data Show?

Listed author(s):
  • Rabah Arezki
  • Sambit Bhattacharyya
  • Nemera Mamo

The empirical relationship between natural resources and conflict in Africa is not very well understood. Using a novel geocoded dataset on resource discovery and conflict we are able to construct a quasi-natural experiment to explore the causal effect of (giant and major) oil and mineral discoveries on conflict in Africa at the grid level corresponding to a spatial resolution of 0.5 x 0.5 degree covering the period 1946 to 2008. Contrary to conventional wisdom, we find no evidence of natural resources triggering conflict in Africa after controlling for grid-specific fixed factors and time varying common shocks. Resource discovery appears to have improved local income measured by nightlights which could be reducing the conflict likelihood. We observe little or no heterogeneity in the relationship across resource type, size of discovery, pre and post conclusion of the cold war, and institutional quality. The relationship remains unchanged at the regional and national levels.

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File URL: http://www.csae.ox.ac.uk/materials/papers/csae-wps-2015-14.pdf
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Paper provided by Centre for the Study of African Economies, University of Oxford in its series CSAE Working Paper Series with number 2015-14.

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Date of creation: 2015
Handle: RePEc:csa:wpaper:2015-14
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