Andrea Tesei, Jørgen Juel Andersen, Frode Martin Nordvik, 26 October 2021

Violent conflict often centres around the control of critical resources, including fossil fuels such as oil. This column explores how the location of oil reserves can affect the likelihood of a particular tension descending into widespread civil violence or war. Using a Norwegian data set, the authors show that the presence of onshore oil has a greater effect than offshore oil in driving conflict. Where a resource is relatively straightforward to access (i.e. on land as opposed to out at sea), rebel groups will be more easily able to reap the benefits of taking control through violence.

Thiemo Fetzer, Pedro Souza, Oliver Vanden Eynde, Austin L. Wright, 11 July 2021

Previous research in economics has focused on the causes of conflict, while the ending of military interventions has received less attention. This column examines the recent security transition from international troops to local forces in the ongoing civil conflict in Afghanistan using declassified data on conflict outcomes and perceptions of local security. It finds that a decline in violence during the initial phase of the security transfer was followed by an upsurge in violence once foreign troops physically withdrew, suggesting that the Taliban’s attacks have been highly strategic. 

Tim Besley, Chris Dann, Torsten Persson, 18 June 2021

The determinants of economic development have been debated for many years. However, some of these determinants have been hard to measure internationally. This column reviews evidence from 25 years of data to argue that countries form persistent ‘development clusters’ according to their levels of internal peace and state capacity.

Hâle Utar, 28 March 2021

The Mexican Drug War, including the ostentatious killings and the targeting of civillians, has been amply covered in the media. What is less known are the economic impacts of the violence, particularly at the firm level. This column presents evidence from Mexican firms, focusing on the differing experiences of ‘blue-collar’ and ‘white-collar’ organisations. The results suggest that violence can cause a negative labour supply shock, particularly in sectors that more frequently employ lower-skilled female workers.

Xavier Devictor, Quy-Toan Do, Andrei Levchenko, 20 February 2021

It is usually observed that countries neighbouring a conflict area end up accommodating the largest numbers of refugees often for very long periods of time. Using data on worldwide bilateral refugee stocks from 1987-2017 compiled by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, this column examines the spatial distribution of refugees and its evolution over time. It finds that while most refugees still remain in a country neighbouring their country of origin, the past decades have seen a trend towards greater geographic diffusion.

Felipe Valencia Caicedo, 20 November 2020

Laotians are still suffering collateral damage from a covert war that the US waged in the country half a century ago. Felipe Valencia Caicedo tells Tim Phillips about the devastating impact of the bombing of Laos, and how we can help victims of conflict in future.

Ulrich J. Eberle, Vernon Henderson, Dominic Rohner, Kurt Schmidheiny, 09 July 2020

Urbanisation is a major driver of economic development. Agglomeration forces that make cities productive and dispersion forces that limit their growth have been extensively studied, but the effect of ethnolinguistic diversity has been largely overlooked. This column shows that more diverse regions tend to experience more social tensions and conflict, less urbanisation, less urban concentration, and hence potentially less economic growth. This effect is however more confined to intermediate political regimes like fragile democracies, whereas a mature degree of democracy helps to defuse the negative impact of diversity on urbanisation.

Dominic Rohner, 14 February 2020

New research shows how a school-building programme in Indonesia successfully reduced conflict. Dominic Rohner tells Tim Phillips about this unanticipated peace dividend, and how the CEPR's research and policy network on conflict reduction will help policymakers.

Sebastian Edwards, 30 November 2019

In a few decades, Chile experienced dramatic economic growth and the fastest reduction of inequality in the region. Yet, many Chilean citizens feel that inequality has greatly increased. Such feelings of 'malestar' triggered the violent social unrest of October 2019. This paper explains this seeming paradox by differentiating ‘vertical’ (income) inequality from ‘horizontal’ (social) inequality. It argues that the neoliberalism that created Chile’s economic growth is no longer effective and that Chile may be headed towards adopting a welfare state model.

Ekaterina Zhuravskaya, 22 October 2019

Ekaterina Zhuravskaya discusses the impact that international media has on military operations.

Benedict Clements, Sanjeev Gupta, Saida Khamidova, 06 October 2019

Worldwide military spending as a percentage of GDP in the years since the Global Crisis has been at nearly half its level during the Cold War. This column identifies three groups into which spending has been converging. It also shows that external threat levels are a factor in determining military spending, but only in developing economies. The results suggest a significant peace dividend from reducing internal conflicts, with a country that moves from the bottom 25% to the top 25% of developing countries on political stability and the absence of violence/terrorism likely to reduce military spending by about half a percentage point of GDP. 

Irena Grosfeld, Seyhun Orcan Sakalli, Ekaterina Zhuravskaya, 03 October 2019

It is commonly argued that political instability increases the likelihood of civil conflicts, while economic downturns can trigger civil conflict and aggravate ethnic violence. This column examines how political and economic factors interact to drive pogroms in an environment of widespread antisemitism, using data from the Russian Empire of the 19th and early 20th centuries. It finds that pogrom waves took place when and only when economic shocks coincided with political turmoil, and that occupational segregation between the Jews and the majority played an important role in triggering ethnic violence.  

Cevat Giray Aksoy, Panu Poutvaara, 05 September 2019

About 1.4 million refugees and irregular migrants arrived in Europe in 2015 and 2016, but little is known about their socio-demographic characteristics and motivations. This column presents the first large-scale evidence on why those who crossed the Mediterranean in 2015 and 2016 had left their home countries. While the vast majority were escaping conflict, the main motivation for a significant number of migrants from countries such as Algeria, Egypt, Morocco, and Pakistan was a desire to seek out better economic opportunities. People who are educated to secondary or tertiary level are more likely to migrate than people with lower levels of education, particularly when fleeing a major conflict, and these people are more likely to head for countries that have more comprehensive migrant integration policies.

Nicola Gennaioli, Guido Tabellini, 06 June 2019

In recent decades, the political systems of advanced democracies have witnessed large changes, often in reaction to economic shocks due to globalisation and technology.  This column uses insights from the social psychology of groups to explain how when large shocks hit, new cleavages in society emerge. This causes individuals to shift their beliefs about themselves and others in the direction of new social stereotypes. If globalisation clusters society in a nationalist versus cosmopolitan cleavage instead of the traditional left versus right, this may dampen demand for redistribution despite potential increases in income inequality. 

Dominic Rohner, Alessandro Saia, 05 May 2019

It is widely believed that education is a crucial factor in curbing political violence, but establishing causal evidence of this notoriously difficult. This column uses a large-scale school construction programme in Indonesia and newspaper reports of violence to tackle this problem. The results show that the construction of primary schools led to statistically significant reductions in conflict that grew larger over time. 

Alison Booth, Xin Meng, 25 March 2019

The literature examining the effect of conflict on trust and trustworthiness has reached contradictory conclusions. This column studies the long-term behavioural impact of the Cultural Revolution in China, which was a major in-group conflict. It finds that the children and grandchildren of those who were mentally or physically abused during the Revolution are less trusting, less trustworthy, and less likely to be competitively inclined relative to peers whose parents/grandparents experienced the Cultural Revolution but were not directly mistreated. 

Rafael Ch, Jacob Shapiro, Abbey Steele, Juan F. Vargas, 29 January 2019

It is widely accepted that war between states can lead to increased fiscal capacity. Yet, there is no similarly clear, historically consistent accounting of how civil wars have affected state capacity and tax revenues. Using recent evidence from Colombia, this column shows that municipalities affected by internal conflict have tax institutions consistent with the preferences of the parties that have managed to inflict more violence in the past. Internal armed conflict can help interest groups capture municipal institutions for their own private benefit, impeding state-building.

Francesco Amodio, Michele Di Maio, 09 December 2018

The economic impact of conflict can be catastrophic, but disentangling and identifying the different ways in which conflict affects the economy is challenging. Using data from the Occupied Palestinian Territory during the Second Intifada, this column examines the specific mechanisms through which economic losses materialise in a conflict zone with low-intensity violence. The findings highlight the close interaction between security and trade issues, calling for an integrated policy approach acting on both fronts.

Hannes Mueller, Dominic Rohner, 22 January 2018

Power sharing has been proposed as a potential solution to political violence in ethnically or religiously diverse countries. Using data from the Troubles in Northern Ireland, this column shows that power sharing has significant and substantial effects in terms of curbing violence. These positive effects disappear when power sharing ends, however, implying that that political cooperation and inclusion need to be maintained in the long run if the benefits of lower violence are to continue.

Jacob Moscona, Nathan Nunn, James Robinson, 09 January 2018

In recent years, it has become clear that characteristics of pre-colonial African societies are an important determinant of their current economic development. This column evaluates the hypothesis that segmentary lineage organisation – a common social structure among ethnic groups in sub-Saharan Africa – causes more conflict today. Ethnic groups in Africa with a social structure marked by kinship are found to show a greater propensity for violent conflict.

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