IDEAS home Printed from
   My bibliography  Save this paper

Resource Conflict in Vulnerable Environments: Three Models Applied to Darfur


  • Olsson, Ola

    () (Department of Economics, School of Business, Economics and Law, Göteborg University)


A recurring argument in the global debate is that climate deterioration is likely to make social conflicts over dwindling natural resources more common in the future. In this paper, we present a modelling framework featuring three potential mechanisms for how the allocation and dynamics of scarce renewable resources like land might cause social conflict in vulnerable environments. The rst model shows how decreasing resources make cooperative trade between two groups collapse. The second mechanism introduces a Malthusian subsistence level below which disenfranchised members of one community start to prey on the resources of another community in an appropriative coflict-setting. The third scenario explores how the long-run dynamics of resources and population levels interact to cause cycles of stagnation and recovery. Predictions from the models are then applied to the ongoing conflict in the Darfur region of Sudan. Our analysis suggests that effective resources per capita in the region appear to have declined by about 5/6 since the 1970s, which at least partially explains the observed disintegration of markets, the recent intensity of conflicts, and the current depopulation of large parts of Darfur.

Suggested Citation

  • Olsson, Ola, 2008. "Resource Conflict in Vulnerable Environments: Three Models Applied to Darfur," Working Papers in Economics 325, University of Gothenburg, Department of Economics.
  • Handle: RePEc:hhs:gunwpe:0325

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL:
    Download Restriction: no

    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Brander, James A & Taylor, M Scott, 1998. "The Simple Economics of Easter Island: A Ricardo-Malthus Model of Renewable Resource Use," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 88(1), pages 119-138, March.
    2. Grossman, Herschel I. & Mendoza, Juan, 2003. "Scarcity and appropriative competition," European Journal of Political Economy, Elsevier, vol. 19(4), pages 747-758, November.
    3. Halvor Mehlum & Karl Moene & Ragnar Torvik, 2006. "Institutions and the Resource Curse," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 116(508), pages 1-20, January.
    4. Dalgaard, Carl-Johan & Strulik, Holger, 2007. "A Bioeconomic Foundation of the Malthusian Equilibrium: Body Size and Population Size in the Long-Run," Hannover Economic Papers (HEP) dp-373, Leibniz Universität Hannover, Wirtschaftswissenschaftliche Fakultät.
    5. Grossman, Herschel I & Kim, Minseong, 1995. "Swords or Plowshares? A Theory of the Security of Claims to Property," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 103(6), pages 1275-1288, December.
    6. Andre, Catherine & Platteau, Jean-Philippe, 1998. "Land relations under unbearable stress: Rwanda caught in the Malthusian trap," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 34(1), pages 1-47, January.
    7. Ola Olsson & Heather Congdon Fors, 2004. "Congo: The Prize of Predation," Journal of Peace Research, Peace Research Institute Oslo, vol. 41(3), pages 321-336, May.
    8. Paul Collier & Anke Hoeffler, 2004. "Greed and grievance in civil war," Oxford Economic Papers, Oxford University Press, vol. 56(4), pages 563-595, October.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    More about this item


    Market integration; resource conflict; vulnerable environments; appropriative conflict; long-run resource and population dynamics; Darfur;

    JEL classification:

    • O41 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Growth and Aggregate Productivity - - - One, Two, and Multisector Growth Models
    • P16 - Economic Systems - - Capitalist Systems - - - Political Economy of Capitalism

    NEP fields

    This paper has been announced in the following NEP Reports:


    Access and download statistics


    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:hhs:gunwpe:0325. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Marie Andersson). General contact details of provider: .

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    If CitEc recognized a reference but did not link an item in RePEc to it, you can help with this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.