Spatial inequality is understood as a function of geography or administrative planning, but its relation to ethnic segregation is less well understood. This column analyses this relationship using regional data for 71 countries with different levels of economic development. The degree of spatial concentration of ethnic groups is a robust and highly significant predictor of within-country income disparities. More ethnically segregated countries experience higher levels of spatial inequality and are thus more prone to conflict.
Roberto Ezcurra, Andrés Rodríguez-Pose, 13 April 2017
Andrea Guariso, Thorsten Rogall, 04 April 2017
There is a lively debate about the role of inequality as a trigger of ethnic conflicts. This column reports groundbreaking research into the effect of the amount of regional rainfall on crops, which is used to measure inequality between ethnic groups. Inequality caused by the weather's effect on crops has a large and significant impact on the prevalence of ethnic conflict. This effect is strongest when a lack of rainfall penalises ethnic groups with no access to power.
Klaus Desmet, Joseph Flavian Gomes, Ignacio Ortuño-Ortin, 17 March 2017
Diverse countries tend to have more conflict, lower development, and worse public goods, possibly due to antagonism between groups. Based on recent research mapping local linguistic diversity across the entire globe, this column argues that local interaction with people of other ethnolinguistic groups can mitigate the negative effect of overall diversity on a country’s outcomes in health, education and public goods. This finding lends support to policies that influence the local mixing of ethnolinguistic groups.
Hannes Mueller, Christopher Rauh, 20 October 2016
Effective forecasting of conflict risk could help prevent civil wars. But resource constraints mean that policymakers rarely act until conflict begins because they fear the number of false positive warnings. This column argues that the policy of reacting to violence instead of preventing it cannot be justified, given the accuracy of simple forecasting models such as news analysis.
Klaus Desmet, Ignacio Ortuño-Ortin, Romain Wacziarg, 31 July 2016
The current refugee crisis has highlighted the importance of understanding how ethnic and cultural differences affect social cohesion. This column investigates the links between ethnicity and culture, and the relationship between diversity and civil conflict. It finds that globally, there appears to be little overlap between ethnic identity and cultural identity. Also, ethnic diversity per se has no effect on civil conflict. It is when differences in culture coincide with differences in ethnicity that conflict becomes more likely.
Debraj Ray, Joan Esteban, 04 July 2016
Since 1950, more than half of the world’s countries have experienced situations of civil war. In this video, Debraj Ray and Joan Esteban discuss their research on the impact of conflict on economic development. In order to design the best possible institutions to cope with conflict, we need to understand the drivers of these conflicts. This video was recorded during the conference on “Economic Development and Institutions” held in Paris in June 2016.
Ruben Durante, Ekaterina Zhuravskaya, 15 June 2016
Governments involved in conflict are often concerned with how their actions are perceived by the international community. This column uses evidence on the Israel-Palestine conflict and US news reporting between 2000 and 2011 to show how media considerations can impact military strategy. Israeli attacks are more likely to be carried out one day before the US news is expected to be dominated by important political or sport events. There is no evidence of a similar pattern to Palestinian attacks. The findings suggest that strategic behaviour could undermine the effectiveness of the mass media as a watchdog, and thus reduce citizens’ ability to keep public officials accountable.
Eli Berman, Mitch Downey, Joe Felter, 15 February 2016
The bloody conflicts in Syria and Iraq have forced the issue of refugees onto the global agenda. However, among the neglected aspects of this discussion are how governance can be restored to conflict regions and the welfare effects that such actions, which are likely to be coercive, will have on local residents. This column examines the impact of a counter-insurgency programme in the Philippines on one development outcome in contested territories – malnutrition of young children. The programme saw a substantial long-term decrease in malnutrition in recaptured areas, but a rise in malnutrition in neighbouring areas. Such efforts may simply displace insurgents and their negative effects, rather than reducing them.
Asha Abdel-Rahim, Dany Jaimovich, Aleksi Ylönen, 13 December 2015
One of the most important effects of armed conflicts is the forced displacement of large numbers of civilians. When conflicts end, many who have left their homes return, facing the challenge of rebuilding their lives in post-conflict areas. This column analyses the outcomes of returning households during a short-lived interwar period in the Nuba Mountains of Sudan. Returning households, particularly those that are female-headed, face worse economic conditions. But returnees fare better on various health indicators, likely related to changes in sanitary habits picked up during displacement.
Tommaso Ciarli, Chiara Kofol, Carlo Menon, 27 October 2015
Though some studies propose that entrepreneurial activity increases during conflicts, macro evidence shows that a conflict is damaging to growth. This column argues that the conflict in Afghanistan did not contribute to economic development because it caused regressive structural changes at the micro level. It reduced employment opportunities and increased self-employment in activities that have low returns. To improve the economic resilience, self-employment in activities that are less affected by conflict should be stimulated.
Hannes Mueller, 16 February 2014
A new literature is trying to understand the economic effects of violent conflict through micro studies. This column argues that cooperation between the cross-country literature and micro studies is needed to better assess the economic costs of conflicts and hence inform policymakers on the benefits of a military or diplomatic intervention.
Francesco Caselli, Massimo Morelli, Dominic Rohner, 19 July 2013
Oil has often been linked to interstate wars. This column argues that asymmetries in endowments of natural resources are important determinants of territorial conflict. When one country has oil near its border with an oil-less country, the probability of conflict is between three and four times as large as when neither country has oil. In contrast, when the oil is very far from the border, the probability of conflict is not significantly higher than between countries with no oil.
Thorvaldur Gylfason, Per Wijkman, 04 November 2012
Today, most of Europe is free from dictatorships and conflict. Yet, these spectres loom in neighbouring states and nearby regions. This column suggests that this year’s Nobel Peace Prize, awarded to the EU, was perhaps a call to action. Can the EU, preoccupied as it is with a growing Eurozone crisis, encourage peace and democracy in its neighbourhood? And what are the lessons we can learn from recent EU policy history?
Robert Aumann, 09 September 2011
Nobel laureate Robert Aumann of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem talks to Romesh Vaitilingam about his work on ‘rule rationality’, the development of game theory and its potential for understanding conflict – from the Pax Romana to the modern day Middle East. The interview was recorded in August 2011 at the Fourth Lindau Meeting on Economic Sciences, which brought together 17 of the 38 living economics laureates with nearly 400 top young economists from around the world. [Also read the transcript]
The conference will provide a platform for the leading experts on alliances in conflict both in Economics and in Political Science to meet and to exchange ideas and research results about the phenomenon of alliances in contests or in conflict more generally. During the conference, young researchers – such as PhD students, post-doctoral researchers and Assistant Professors – are given a chance to bring forward and discuss their work with leading scholars in a “poster session”. The Organizing Committee is therefore pleased to invite young researchers, who work in the field of alliances, contests and conflict and who are at most 3 years past obtaining a PhD, to submit an extended abstract (at most 500 words) to [email protected]. We invite theoretical work, empirical work or experimental work on the functioning of alliances in conflict and on the reasons and consequences of the formation of alliances. Submission should include a recent CV and be received at the latest by May 31, 2011.
Lisa Chauvet, Paul Collier, Marguerite Duponchel, 16 November 2010
The end of war is the beginning of a new set of challenges for aid workers. This column asks whether this is the best time to start aid projects. Examining project-level data from the World Bank, it finds that post-conflict aid is more effective, though this is not true for all projects and the advantage erodes over time.
Santiago Sanchez-Pages, 24 September 2010
Are conflicts worth it? This column argues that they can be. While wars are extremely damaging, they can be in the interests of one party if they help reveal the true balance of power and thereby change the stakes in eventual negotiations. This explains why small countries take on superpowers with no chance of winning and why unions go on strike against laws already passed.
Ejaz Ghani, Lakshmi Iyer, 23 March 2010
Is conflict a cause or a result of underdevelopment? This column presents research on South Asia – the second most violent region in the world. It argues that conflict is both a cause and an effect. To break out of the trap, policymakers need to reduce poverty while at the same time restraining conflict to enable the much needed economic growth.
Enrico Spolaore, Romain Wacziarg, 07 July 2009
Can trade and democracy promote peace or is armed conflict deeply rooted in cultural, ethnic, and religious differences? This column introduces a novel way to estimate the direct effect of long-term relatedness on the risk of international conflict and finds that, while democracies and open economies are less conflict-prone, the risk of conflict is actually greater among more closely related populations.
Eliana La Ferrara, 05 December 2008
Eliana La Ferrara of Bocconi University talks to Romesh Vaitilingam about her research on the causes and consequences of conflict within countries, particularly in sub-Saharan Africa. The interview was recorded at the annual congress of the European Economic Association in Milan in August 2008.