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Continuing Conflict


  • John W. Maxwell

    (Department of Business Economics and Public Policy, Indiana University Kelley School of Business)

  • Rafael Reuveny

    (School of Public and Environmental Affairs, Indiana University)


A relatively small but growing literature in economics examines conflictive activities where agents allocate their resource endowments between wealth production and appropriation. To date, their studies have employed a one period, static game theoretic framework. We propose a methodology to extend this literature to a dynamic setting, modeling continuous conflict over renewable natural resources between two rival groups. Investigating the system’s steady states and dynamics, we find two results of general interest. First, Hirshleifer’s “paradox of power” is self-correcting. Second, if productive activities cause damage to disputed resources, the introduction of a small amount of conflictive activity enhances social welfare.

Suggested Citation

  • John W. Maxwell & Rafael Reuveny, 2004. "Continuing Conflict," Working Papers 2004-27, Indiana University, Kelley School of Business, Department of Business Economics and Public Policy.
  • Handle: RePEc:iuk:wpaper:2004-27

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    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. Reuveny, Rafael & Maxwell, John W., 1998. "Free trade and arms races: Some thoughts regarding EU-Russian trade," ZEI Working Papers B 14-1998, University of Bonn, ZEI - Center for European Integration Studies.
    3. Rafael Reuveny & John W. Maxwell, "undated". "Conflict and Renewable Resources," Working Papers 2004-26, Indiana University, Kelley School of Business, Department of Business Economics and Public Policy.
    4. Skaperdas, Stergios, 1992. "Cooperation, Conflict, and Power in the Absence of Property Rights," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 82(4), pages 720-739, September.
    5. Usher, Dan, 1989. "The Dynastic Cycle and the Stationary State," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 79(5), pages 1031-1044, December.
    6. 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.
    7. Hirshleifer, Jack, 1995. "Anarchy and Its Breakdown," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 103(1), pages 26-52, February.
    8. Stergios Skaperdas, 1996. "Contest success functions (*)," Economic Theory, Springer;Society for the Advancement of Economic Theory (SAET), vol. 7(2), pages 283-290.
    9. 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.
    10. Anderton, Charles H & Anderton, Roxane A & Carter, John R, 1999. "Economic Activity in the Shadow of Conflict," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 37(1), pages 166-179, January.
    11. Neary, Hugh M, 1997. "Equilibrium Structure in an Economic Model of Conflict," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 35(3), pages 480-494, July.
    12. Durham, Yvonne & Hirshleifer, Jack & Smith, Vernon L., 2008. "The Paradox of Power," Handbook of Experimental Economics Results, Elsevier.
    13. repec:cup:apsrev:v:87:y:1993:i:01:p:115-132_09 is not listed on IDEAS
    14. repec:cup:apsrev:v:79:y:1985:i:04:p:943-957_23 is not listed on IDEAS
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    Cited by:

    1. David Croix & Davide Dottori, 2008. "Easter Island’s collapse: a tale of a population race," Journal of Economic Growth, Springer, vol. 13(1), pages 27-55, March.
    2. Anderton, Charles H. & Carter, John R., 2008. "Vulnerable trade: The dark side of an Edgeworth box," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 68(2), pages 422-432, November.
    3. Adam Jacobsson, 2009. "War and peace—cyclical phenomena?," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 141(3), pages 467-480, December.
    4. van der Ploeg, Frederick & Rohner, Dominic, 2012. "War and natural resource exploitation," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 56(8), pages 1714-1729.
    5. Matthew Baker & Erwin Bulte, 2010. "Kings and Vikings: on the dynamics of competitive agglomeration," Economics of Governance, Springer, vol. 11(3), pages 207-227, June.
    6. Eggert, Wolfgang & Itaya, Jun-ichi & Mino, Kazuo, 2011. "A dynamic model of conflict and appropriation," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 78(1), pages 167-182.
    7. Chan, Kenneth S. & Laffargue, Jean-Pierre, 2016. "Plunder and tribute in a Malthusian world," Mathematical Social Sciences, Elsevier, vol. 84(C), pages 138-150.
    8. Reuveny, Rafael & Maxwell, John W. & Davis, Jefferson, 2011. "On conflict over natural resources," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 70(4), pages 698-712, February.
    9. Hausken, Kjell, 2008. "Whether to attack a terrorist's resource stock today or tomorrow," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 64(2), pages 548-564, November.
    10. John W. Maxwell & Rafael Reuveny & Jefferson Davis, 2007. "Dynamic Winner-take-all Conflict," Working Papers 2007-12, Indiana University, Kelley School of Business, Department of Business Economics and Public Policy.
    11. Alex Coram, 2006. "An asymmetric dynamic struggle between pirates and producers," UMASS Amherst Economics Working Papers 2006-07, University of Massachusetts Amherst, Department of Economics.
    12. Bakshi, Dripto & Dasgupta, Indraneel, 2015. "A Model of Dynamic Conflict in Ethnocracies," IZA Discussion Papers 9159, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).

    More about this item


    Conflict; Dynamics; Paradox of Power; Renewable Resources;

    JEL classification:

    • D74 - Microeconomics - - Analysis of Collective Decision-Making - - - Conflict; Conflict Resolution; Alliances; Revolutions
    • Q20 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Renewable Resources and Conservation - - - General


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