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An Economic Approach to Analyzing Civil War

  • Stergios Skaperdas


    (Department of Economics, University of California-Irvine)

Civil wars and conflict can be understood from an economic point of view only if there is incomplete contracting. I examine such settings and first discuss sources of incomplete contracting, from geography and ethnic and social distance to external interventions due to geopolitics or the presence of rents. Yet, since war is destructive, the contending parties might normally be expected to settle in the shadow of war. One reason that sometimes they do not, contrary to conventional wisdom, is because the shadow of the future is too long. Subsequently, using a formal model for guidance I examine some consequences of civil wars and emphasize the role hierarchical organization and rents play in determining the severity of conflict.

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Paper provided by University of California-Irvine, Department of Economics in its series Working Papers with number 060715.

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Length: 29 pages
Date of creation: Apr 2007
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:irv:wpaper:060715
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  1. Daron Acemoglu & Simon Johnson & James Robinson, 2004. "Institutions As The Fundamental Cause Of Long-Run Growth," DOCUMENTOS CEDE 002889, UNIVERSIDAD DE LOS ANDES-CEDE.
  2. Mehlum, Halvor & Moene, Karl & Torvik, Ragnar, 2003. "Predator or prey?: Parasitic enterprises in economic development," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 47(2), pages 275-294, April.
  3. Garance Genicot & Stergios Skaperdas, 2002. "Investing in Conflict Management," Journal of Conflict Resolution, Peace Science Society (International), vol. 46(1), pages 154-170, February.
  4. Neary, Hugh M, 1997. "Equilibrium Structure in an Economic Model of Conflict," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 35(3), pages 480-94, July.
  5. Gregory D. Hess, 2002. "The Economic Welfare Cost of Conflict: An Empirical Assessment," Claremont Colleges Working Papers 2002-08, Claremont Colleges.
  6. Garfinkel, M.R. & Skaperdas, S., 2000. "Conflict without Misperceptions or Incomplete Information: how the Future Matters," Papers 99-00-11, California Irvine - School of Social Sciences.
  7. Stergios Skaperdas, 2001. "The political economy of organized crime: providing protection when the state does not," Economics of Governance, Springer, vol. 2(3), pages 173-202, November.
  8. Grossman, Sanford J & Hart, Oliver, 1985. "The Cost and Benefits of Ownership: A Theory of Vertical and Lateral Integration," CEPR Discussion Papers 70, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  9. Bester, Helmut & Wärneryd, Karl, 2006. "Conflict and the Social Contract," Discussion Paper Series of SFB/TR 15 Governance and the Efficiency of Economic Systems 94, Free University of Berlin, Humboldt University of Berlin, University of Bonn, University of Mannheim, University of Munich.
  10. Grossman, Herschel I, 1991. "A General Equilibrium Model of Insurrections," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 81(4), pages 912-21, September.
  11. Konrad, Kai A. & Skaperdas, Stergios, 2012. "The market for protection and the origin of the state," Munich Reprints in Economics 13961, University of Munich, Department of Economics.
  12. Skaperdas, Stergios & Syropoulos, Constantinos, 1996. "Can the shadow of the future harm cooperation?," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 29(3), pages 355-372, May.
  13. Fearon, James D., 1995. "Rationalist explanations for war," International Organization, Cambridge University Press, vol. 49(03), pages 379-414, June.
  14. Collier, Paul & Hoeffler, Anke, 2000. "Greed and grievance in civil war," Policy Research Working Paper Series 2355, The World Bank.
  15. Michelle R. Garfinkel, 2003. "On the Stability of Group Formation: Managing the Conflict Within," Public Economics 0312005, EconWPA, revised 04 Mar 2004.
  16. Anbarci, Nejat & Skaperdas, Stergios & Syropoulos, Constantinos, 2002. "Comparing Bargaining Solutions in the Shadow of Conflict: How Norms against Threats Can Have Real Effects," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 106(1), pages 1-16, September.
  17. Francisco M. Gonzalez, 2005. "Insecure Property and Technological Backwardness," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 115(505), pages 703-721, 07.
  18. Skaperdas, Stergios, 1992. "Cooperation, Conflict, and Power in the Absence of Property Rights," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 82(4), pages 720-39, September.
  19. Acemoglu, Daron & Robinson, James A, 1998. "Why did the West Extend the Franchise? Democracy, Inequality and Growth in Historical Perspective," CEPR Discussion Papers 1797, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  20. Michael McBride & Stergios Skaperdas, 2005. "Explaining Conflict in Low-Income Countries: Incomplete Contracting in the Shadow of the Future," Working Papers 050606, University of California-Irvine, Department of Economics.
  21. Paul Collier & V. L. Elliott & Håvard Hegre & Anke Hoeffler & Marta Reynal-Querol & Nicholas Sambanis, 2003. "Breaking the Conflict Trap : Civil War and Development Policy," World Bank Publications, The World Bank, number 13938, September.
  22. Chwe, Michael Suk-Young, 2000. "Communication and Coordination in Social Networks," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 67(1), pages 1-16, January.
  23. repec:cup:cbooks:9780521583299 is not listed on IDEAS
  24. Jack Hirshleifer, 1989. "Conflict and rent-seeking success functions: Ratio vs. difference models of relative success," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 63(2), pages 101-112, November.
  25. Hirshleifer, Jack, 1995. "Anarchy and Its Breakdown," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 103(1), pages 26-52, February.
  26. Joan Esteban & Debraj Ray, 2008. "On the Salience of Ethnic Conflict," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 98(5), pages 2185-2202, December.
  27. Robert H. Bates & Avner Greif & Margaret Levi & Jean-Laurent Rosenthal, 1998. "Analytic Narratives," Economics Books, Princeton University Press, edition 1, volume 1, number 6355.
  28. Dimitriy Gershenson & Herschel I. Grossman, 1999. "Civil Conflict: Ended Or Never Ending?," Working Papers 99-31, Brown University, Department of Economics.
  29. Garfinkel, Michelle R. & Skaperdas, Stergios, 2007. "Economics of Conflict: An Overview," Handbook of Defense Economics, Elsevier.
  30. Timur Kuran, 1989. "Sparks and prairie fires: A theory of unanticipated political revolution," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 61(1), pages 41-74, April.
  31. Santiago Sanchez-Pages, 2004. "Conflict as a Part of the Bargaining Process: Theory and Empirical Evidence," ESE Discussion Papers 129, Edinburgh School of Economics, University of Edinburgh.
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