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The Economics of Civil War: The Case of the Democratic Republic of Congo


  • Kisangani Emizet
  • Léonce Ndikumana


This study analyzes the causes of civil wars in the Congo since independence and investigates how the Congo case fits the model of civil war proposed by Collier and Hoeffler. Five conclusions arise from this case study. First, the level and growth rate of national income increased the risk of war by reducing the cost of organizing rebellions and the government’s ability to counteract the rebellions. Second, while regional ethnic dominance served as a basis for mobilization of rebellions, ethnic antagonism was also an obstacle to the expansion of civil wars beyond the province of origin. Third, while natural resource dependence was a significant determinant of civil wars in the DRC, it is the geographic concentration of natural resources and their unequal distribution that made the Congo particularly prone to civil war. Fourth, the government’s ability to counteract rebellions depended more on external support than on the government’s military and economic capacity. Fifth, discriminatory nationality laws, disruptions in the ethnic balance of the eastern region caused by the influx of Rwandan Hutu refugees in 1994, and shared ethnicity between rebels and neighboring regimes—variables which are not included in the Collier-Hoeffler model—were significant determinants of the outbreak of civil wars in the 1990s.

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  • Kisangani Emizet & Léonce Ndikumana, 2003. "The Economics of Civil War: The Case of the Democratic Republic of Congo," Working Papers wp63, Political Economy Research Institute, University of Massachusetts at Amherst.
  • Handle: RePEc:uma:periwp:wp63

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Paul Collier & Anke Hoeffler, 2002. "On the Incidence of Civil War in Africa," Journal of Conflict Resolution, Peace Science Society (International), vol. 46(1), pages 13-28, February.
    2. Ndikumana, Leonce & Boyce, James K., 2003. "Public Debts and Private Assets: Explaining Capital Flight from Sub-Saharan African Countries," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 31(1), pages 107-130, January.
    3. Paul Collier & Anke Hoeffler, 2004. "Greed and grievance in civil war," Oxford Economic Papers, Oxford University Press, vol. 56(4), pages 563-595, October.
    4. Emizet, K-N-F, 1997. "Zaire after Mobutu. A Case of a Humanitarian Emergency," Research Paper 32, World Institute for Development Economics Research.
    5. Nicholas Sambanis, 2002. "A Review of Recent Advances and Future Directions in the Quantitative Literature on Civil War," Defence and Peace Economics, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 13(3), pages 215-243.
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    Cited by:

    1. James Boyce, 2003. "Aid, Conditionality, and War Economies," Working Papers wp70, Political Economy Research Institute, University of Massachusetts at Amherst.
    2. Léonce Ndikumana, 2005. "Distributional Conflict, The State, and Peacebuilding in Burundi," Working Papers wp105, Political Economy Research Institute, University of Massachusetts at Amherst.
    3. James K. Boyce, 2004. "Aid, Conditionality, and War Economies," UMASS Amherst Economics Working Papers 2004-05, University of Massachusetts Amherst, Department of Economics.

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