DP7101 The Incidence of Civil War: Theory and Evidence

Author(s): Timothy J. Besley, Torsten Persson
Publication Date: December 2008
Keyword(s): commodity prices, conflict, natural resources, political institutions
JEL(s): D74, F52, O11, Q34
Programme Areas: International Macroeconomics, Public Economics, Development Economics
Link to this Page: cepr.org/active/publications/discussion_papers/dp.php?dpno=7101

This paper studies the incidence of civil war over time. We put forward a canonical model of civil war, which relates the incidence of conflict to circumstances, institutions and features of the underlying economy and polity. We use this model to derive testable predictions and to interpret the cross-sectional and times-series variations in civil conflict. Our most novel empirical finding is that higher world market prices of exported, as well as imported, commodities are strong and significant predictors of higher within-country incidence of civil war.