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A research agenda for the economic study of genocide: signposts from the field of conflict economics


  • Charles Anderton

    () (Department of Economics, College of the Holy Cross)


In the field of conflict economics there is surprisingly little research on genocide and mass killing relative to war and terrorism, which I call the ‘genocide gap’. This article critically evaluates the potential for scholarship in conflict economics to help fill the gap with new research on economic aspects of mass atrocities. The article begins with an overview of the principal subject matter and methodologies of conflict economics and key interdependencies between economics and conflict. Relatively new civilian atrocity datasets and trends are then evaluated followed by a critical assessment of empirical economic risk factors for mass atrocities. The remainder of the article points to how three richly researched areas in conflict economics can serve as signposts for new quantitative research on economic aspects of genocide and mass killing. The three signposts critically assessed are: (1) empirical study of economic risk factors for civil wars; (2) promise and limits of rational choice theory; and (3) economic consequences of civil wars. This analysis is complemented by a tentative discussion of economic insights derived from a foundational work in genocide studies, Raphael Lemkin's Axis rule in occupied Europe, that could profitably serve as the foundation for future research on the economic study of genocide.

Suggested Citation

  • Charles Anderton, 2014. "A research agenda for the economic study of genocide: signposts from the field of conflict economics," Working Papers 1413, College of the Holy Cross, Department of Economics.
  • Handle: RePEc:hcx:wpaper:1413

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    Cited by:

    1. Charles Anderton, 2015. "Genocide: Perspectives from the Social Sciences," Working Papers 1508, College of the Holy Cross, Department of Economics.
    2. Charles Anderton & Jurgen Brauer, 2014. "Economics of Genocide and International Law," Working Papers 1409, College of the Holy Cross, Department of Economics.
    3. Brauer, Jurgen & Caruso, Raul, 2015. "“For Being Aboriginal”: Economic Perspectives on Pre-Holocaust Genocide and Mass Killings," MPRA Paper 64462, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    4. Raul Caruso, 2015. "Identity and Incentives an Economic Interpretation of the Holocaust," DISCE - Quaderni del Dipartimento di Politica Economica ispe0072, Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore, Dipartimenti e Istituti di Scienze Economiche (DISCE).

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