Discussion paper

DP11496 Malaria Risk and Civil Violence

Using high-resolution data from Africa over the period 1998-2012, this paper investigates the hypothesis that a higher exposure to malaria increases the incidence of civil violence.
The econometric identification exploits exogenous monthly within-grid-cell variation in weather conditions that are particularly suitable for malaria transmission and compares the effect across cells with different latent malaria exposure, which affects the resistance and immunity of the population. By conditioning on cell-year and month fixed effects, the empirical specification accounts for most complementary determinants of violence that have been identified in the existing literature. The results document a robust effect of the occurrence of suitable conditions for malaria on civil violence. The effect is shown to be highest in areas with low levels of immunity and to affect unorganized violence in terms of riots and protests and confrontations between militias and civilians, instead of geo-strategic violence. The effect spikes during short harvesting periods of staple crops that are particularly important for the subsistence of the population. The paper ends with an exploration of the role of anti-malarial policies.


Sunde, U, M Cervellati and E Esposito (2016), ‘DP11496 Malaria Risk and Civil Violence‘, CEPR Discussion Paper No. 11496. CEPR Press, Paris & London. https://cepr.org/publications/dp11496