Poverty and Civil War: Revisiting the Evidence

23 Pages Posted: 2 Dec 2008

See all articles by Simeon Djankov

Simeon Djankov

London School of Economics & Political Science (LSE); Peter G. Peterson Institute for International Economics

Marta Reynal-Querol

Universitat Pompeu Fabra - Faculty of Economic and Business Sciences; World Bank - Development Research Group (DECRG)

Date Written: October 2008

Abstract

A popular "stylized fact" is that poverty is a main determinant of civil war: several scholars have interpreted the correlation between the two as evidence supporting this claim. In this paper, we find that the relationship between poverty and civil war is spurious, and is accounted for by historical phenomena that jointly determine income evolution and conflict. In particular, the statistical association between poverty, as proxied by income per capita, and civil wars disappears once we include country fixed effects. Also, using cross-section data for 1960-2005, we find that once historical variables like European settler mortality rates and the population density in 1500 are included in civil war regressions, poverty does not have an effect on civil wars. These results are confirmed using longer time series from 1825 to 2000.

Keywords: Civil War, Income

JEL Classification: O11

Suggested Citation

Djankov, Simeon and Reynal-Querol, Marta and Reynal-Querol, Marta, Poverty and Civil War: Revisiting the Evidence (October 2008). CEPR Discussion Paper No. DP6980, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1308051

Simeon Djankov (Contact Author)

London School of Economics & Political Science (LSE) ( email )

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Peter G. Peterson Institute for International Economics ( email )

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Marta Reynal-Querol

Universitat Pompeu Fabra - Faculty of Economic and Business Sciences ( email )

Ramon Trias Fargas 25-27
Barcelona, 08005
Spain
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World Bank - Development Research Group (DECRG) ( email )

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202-458-7891 (Phone)

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