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Drought and Civil War in Sub-Saharan Africa


  • Mathieu Couttenier

    () (CES - Centre d'économie de la Sorbonne - UP1 - Université Panthéon-Sorbonne - CNRS - Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique, PSE - Paris School of Economics, IEP Paris - Sciences Po Paris - Institut d'études politiques de Paris)

  • Raphaël Soubeyran

    (LAMETA - Laboratoire Montpelliérain d'Économie Théorique et Appliquée - UM1 - Université Montpellier 1 - UM3 - Université Paul-Valéry - Montpellier 3 - Montpellier SupAgro - Centre international d'études supérieures en sciences agronomiques - INRA Montpellier - Institut national de la recherche agronomique [Montpellier] - UM - Université de Montpellier - CNRS - Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique - Montpellier SupAgro - Institut national d’études supérieures agronomiques de Montpellier, IDEP - IDEP)


This paper contributes to the heated debate on the link between climate and civil war. We exploit a large dataset of a drought index commonly used in hydrology, the Palmer Drought Severity Index (PDSI). The PDSI is based on a hydrological model and is a cumulative measure that takes account of past climatic variables. Our analysis takes account of country fixed effects, removal of the most influential observations, use of alternative sample periods and changes to the battle-death threshold. Overall, results show a robust link between drought and civil war in Sub-Saharan African states after independence.

Suggested Citation

  • Mathieu Couttenier & Raphaël Soubeyran, 2011. "Drought and Civil War in Sub-Saharan Africa," PSE - G-MOND WORKING PAPERS halshs-00962481, HAL.
  • Handle: RePEc:hal:gmonwp:halshs-00962481
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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. A. Colin Cameron & Jonah B. Gelbach & Douglas L. Miller, 2008. "Bootstrap-Based Improvements for Inference with Clustered Errors," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 90(3), pages 414-427, August.
    2. repec:cup:apsrev:v:97:y:2003:i:01:p:75-90_00 is not listed on IDEAS
    3. Peter Sandholt Jensen & Kristian Skrede Gleditsch, 2009. "Rain, Growth, And Civil War: The Importance Of Location," Defence and Peace Economics, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 20(5), pages 359-372, October.
    4. Marshall Burke & John Dykema & David Lobell & Edward Miguel & Shanker Satyanath, 2010. "Climate and Civil War: Is the Relationship Robust?," NBER Working Papers 16440, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    5. Marianne Bertrand & Esther Duflo & Sendhil Mullainathan, 2004. "How Much Should We Trust Differences-In-Differences Estimates?," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 119(1), pages 249-275.
    6. Paul Collier & Anke Hoeffler, 2004. "Greed and grievance in civil war," Oxford Economic Papers, Oxford University Press, vol. 56(4), pages 563-595, October.
    7. John Landon-Lane & Hugh Rockoff & Richard H. Steckel, 2011. "Droughts, Floods and Financial Distress in the United States," NBER Chapters,in: The Economics of Climate Change: Adaptations Past and Present, pages 73-98 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    8. Edward Miguel & Shanker Satyanath, 2011. "Re-examining Economic Shocks and Civil Conflict," American Economic Journal: Applied Economics, American Economic Association, vol. 3(4), pages 228-232, October.
    9. Edward Miguel & Shanker Satyanath & Ernest Sergenti, 2004. "Economic Shocks and Civil Conflict: An Instrumental Variables Approach," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 112(4), pages 725-753, August.
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    More about this item


    Climate Change; Drought; Civil War;

    JEL classification:

    • Q5 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Environmental Economics
    • Q58 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Environmental Economics - - - Environmental Economics: Government Policy


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