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War Signals: A Theory of Trade, Trust and Conflict

Author

Listed:
  • Mathias Thoenig

    (University of Lausanne)

  • Fabrizio Zilibotti

    (University of Zurich)

  • Dominic Rohner

    (University of Zurich)

Abstract

The theory bears some testable predictions. First, the probability of future civil wars increases after each conflict episode. Second, a sequence of "accidental" conflicts can lead to the permanent breakdown of trust, plunging a society into a state of recurrent conflicts (a war trap). This situation is irreversible and is characterized by weak cross-community trade links even in peace times. War traps are robust to additional sources of social learning, such as people learning from the direct observation of the history of cross-community trade. The incidence of conflict can be reduced by policies abating cultural barriers, fostering human capital and targeting beliefs. Coercitive peace policies such as peacekeeping forces or externally imposed regime changes have instead no persistent effects.

Suggested Citation

  • Mathias Thoenig & Fabrizio Zilibotti & Dominic Rohner, 2011. "War Signals: A Theory of Trade, Trust and Conflict," 2011 Meeting Papers 281, Society for Economic Dynamics.
  • Handle: RePEc:red:sed011:281
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    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • D74 - Microeconomics - - Analysis of Collective Decision-Making - - - Conflict; Conflict Resolution; Alliances; Revolutions
    • D83 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - Search; Learning; Information and Knowledge; Communication; Belief; Unawareness
    • O15 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Economic Development: Human Resources; Human Development; Income Distribution; Migration
    • Q34 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Nonrenewable Resources and Conservation - - - Natural Resources and Domestic and International Conflicts

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