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The wrong suspect. An enquiry into the endogeneity of natural resource measures to civil war

  • Rigterink, Anouk S.
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    This paper argues that natural resources in the past have been falsely identified as a cause of civil conflict onset. The idea that natural resources spur conflict has reached a certain degree of acceptance among scholars and policy makers with a number of quantitative studies concluding that natural resource abundant countries are more likely to experience a civil war than countries without such resources. However insights from the ‘resource curse’ literature suggest that measures of natural resources abundance conventionally used in these studies, can not be considered exogenous. Reversed causality and/or omitted political and economic variables may thus undermine the ability of these studies to prove a causal relationship between natural resource abundance and civil war. In this paper, I propose two more exogenous measures of natural resource abundance such as natural capital and subsoil capital. I identify those studies that find the strongest effect of natural resources on civil war (Collier and Hoeffler 2004, Collier Hoeffler and Rohner 2009) and replicate the exact same specifications, only changing the measure of natural resource abundance. Using the proposed more exogenous measures, I find no evidence that natural resource abundance leads to higher civil war risk. On the contrary, this paper provides some inconclusive evidence for the proposition that natural resource abundance may diminish civil war risk. Furthermore, I interact natural resource abundance with various measures of institutional quality, suggesting that the effect natural resources have on civil war might depend on quality of the institutions in the country at hand.

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    File URL: http://mpra.ub.uni-muenchen.de/45263/1/MPRA_paper_45234.pdf
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    Paper provided by University Library of Munich, Germany in its series MPRA Paper with number 45263.

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    Date of creation: 2010
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    Handle: RePEc:pra:mprapa:45263
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    1. Besley, Timothy J. & Persson, Torsten, 2008. "The Incidence of Civil War: Theory and Evidence," CEPR Discussion Papers 7101, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    2. Halvor Mehlum & Karl Moene & Ragnar Torvik, 2002. "Institutions and the resource curse," Development and Comp Systems 0210003, EconWPA.
    3. Sachs, Jeffrey D. & Warner, Andrew M., 2001. "The curse of natural resources," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 45(4-6), pages 827-838, May.
    4. Collier, Paul & Hoeffler, Anke, 2000. "Greed and grievance in civil war," Policy Research Working Paper Series 2355, The World Bank.
    5. Christa N. Brunnschweiler & Erwin H. Bulte, 2009. "Natural resources and violent conflict: resource abundance, dependence, and the onset of civil wars," Oxford Economic Papers, Oxford University Press, vol. 61(4), pages 651-674, October.
    6. Collier, Paul & Hoeffler, Anke, 1998. "On Economic Causes of Civil War," Oxford Economic Papers, Oxford University Press, vol. 50(4), pages 563-73, October.
    7. Sachs, J-D & Warner, A-M, 1995. "Natural Resource Abundance and Economic Growth," Papers 517a, Harvard - Institute for International Development.
    8. Daron Acemoglu & Simon Johnson & James A. Robinson, 2000. "The Colonial Origins of Comparative Development: An Empirical Investigation," NBER Working Papers 7771, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    9. Indra De Soysa & Eric Neumayer, 2007. "Resource Wealth and the Risk of Civil War Onset: Results from a New Dataset of Natural Resource Rents, 1970—1999," Conflict Management and Peace Science, Peace Science Society (International), vol. 24(3), pages 201-218, July.
    10. Brunnschweiler, Christa N., 2008. "Cursing the Blessings? Natural Resource Abundance, Institutions, and Economic Growth," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 36(3), pages 399-419, March.
    11. Oeindrila Dube & Juan F. Vargas, 2013. "Commodity Price Shocks and Civil Conflict: Evidence from Colombia," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 80(4), pages 1384-1421.
    12. Ross, Michael L., 2004. "How Do Natural Resources Influence Civil War? Evidence from Thirteen Cases," International Organization, Cambridge University Press, vol. 58(01), pages 35-67, February.
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