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Murder by Numbers: Socio-Economic Determinants of Homicide and Civil War

  • Paul Collier

    (Centre for the Study of African Economies)

  • Anke Hoeffler

    (Centre for the Study of African Economies)

Deliberate killing is a common part of the defining features of both homicide and civil war. Often, the scale of killing is also similar: most countries have homicide rates that exceed the threshold of one thousand combat-related deaths during a year that is the standard criterion for civil war. What is clearly different is the organization of killing: the perpetrators of homicide are usually individuals or small groups, whereas rebellion – the direct cause of a civil war - requires a cohesive group of at least several hundred killers. Beyond this, the motivation for the two types of killing may differ systematically, although evidently both homicide and rebellion have many different motivations, including error and irrationality. In this paper we investigate whether the socio-economic determinants of homicide and civil war are similar, and then explore potential inter-relationships between them. We compare our existing model of the risk of civil war with a new model of the homicide rate. We find that there is a ‘family resemblance’ between the two types of killing, but surprising differences. Furthermore, we turn to the inter-relationships between homicide and the risk of civil war. Specifically, we ask whether a high rate of homicide makes a country more prone to civil war, and whether a civil war makes a country more prone to homicide. Our results indicate that higher homicide rate do not increase the risk of war but that civil wars generate a legacy of increased post-conflict homicide rates.

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File URL: http://128.118.178.162/eps/dev/papers/0409/0409048.pdf
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Paper provided by EconWPA in its series Development and Comp Systems with number 0409048.

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Length: 25 pages
Date of creation: 28 Sep 2004
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:wpa:wuwpdc:0409048
Note: Type of Document - pdf; pages: 25
Contact details of provider: Web page: http://128.118.178.162

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  1. Grossman, Herschel I, 1999. "Kleptocracy and Revolutions," Oxford Economic Papers, Oxford University Press, vol. 51(2), pages 267-83, April.
  2. Paul Collier & Anke Hoeffler, 2004. "Greed and Grievance in Civil War," Development and Comp Systems 0409007, EconWPA.
  3. Fajnzylber, Pablo & Lederman, Daniel & Loayza, Norman, 2002. "Inequality and Violent Crime," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 45(1), pages 1-40, April.
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  8. Deininger, Klaus & Squire, Lyn, 1998. "New ways of looking at old issues: inequality and growth," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 57(2), pages 259-287.
  9. Klaus Deininger & Lyn Squire, 1996. "A New Data Set Measuring Income Inequality," CEMA Working Papers 512, China Economics and Management Academy, Central University of Finance and Economics.
  10. Mauro, Paolo, 1995. "Corruption and Growth," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 110(3), pages 681-712, August.
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  12. 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.
  13. Grossman, Herschel I, 1991. "A General Equilibrium Model of Insurrections," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 81(4), pages 912-21, September.
  14. Hongyi Li & Lyn Squire & Tao Zhang & Heng-fu Zou, 1999. "A Data Set on Income Distribution," CEMA Working Papers 575, China Economics and Management Academy, Central University of Finance and Economics.
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