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In our brief review, we take stock of the emergence, in the last decade, of the “microeconomics of violent conflict” as a new subfield of empirical development economics. We start by de-bunking common misperceptions about the microeconomics of conflict and identify several contributions to economic theory and, in particular, to empirics, methods and data. We also show how the subfield is enriched through cooperation with scholars working in related disciplines. We expect future work to contribute inter alia to the evidence base on peacebuilding interventions, the development of post-conflict institutions, the behavior of firms in conflict areas and the role of emotions in decision-making. We note a disconnect between the rapidly evolving academic subfield on the one hand and the relatively limited use of knowledge thus generated by humanitarian and development organisations and policy makers working in and on conflict-affected areas. We conclude by suggesting that teaching in economics and the discipline-specific JEL codes have not yet kept pace with this recent intellectual development.
The microeconomics of violent conict
JEL codes
In our brief review, we take stock of the emergence, in the last decade, of the microeconomics of violent conict
as a new subeld of empirical development economics. We start by de-bunking common misperceptions about the
microeconomics of conict and identify several contributions to economic theory and, in particular, to empirics,
methods and data. We also show how the subeld is enriched through cooperation with scholars working in
related disciplines. We expect future work to contribute inter alia to the evidence base on peacebuilding in-
terventions, the development of post-conict institutions, the behavior of rms in conict areas and the role of
emotions in decision-making. We note a disconnect between the rapidly evolving academic subeld on the one
hand and the relatively limited use of knowledge thus generated by humanitarian and development organisations
and policy makers working in and on conict-affected areas. We conclude by suggesting that teaching in eco-
nomics and the discipline-specic JEL codes have not yet kept pace with this recent intellectual development.
1. The microeconomics of conict as a new sub-eld of
development economics
In this short review, we dene the subeld of the microeconomics of
violent conict, reviewing its scope, discussing its achievements to date
and offering a subjective take on future pathways. We discuss research
that has focused at its core on the behavior and welfare of individual
agents and groups, disregarding studies of entire countries at war.
dene violent conict as the systematic breakdown of the social contract
resulting from and/or leading to changes in social norms, which involves
mass violence instigated through collective action(Justino et al., 2013:
The micro-level analysis of such forms of violent conict is a new
topic in development economics, which has offered new exciting
analytical and methodological insights, as well as challenges.
The microeconomics of conict has multiple intellectual origins. The
rst studies were originally stimulated by new microeconomics ap-
proaches to the study of development during the second half of the 1990s
and early 2000s (e.g. Deaton, 1997), by inuential cross-country analyses
of the economic causes and consequences of armed conict (e.g. Collier
and Hoefer, 2004) and by new work on the political economy of
development (e.g. Acemoglu et al., 2001). At the same time, the growing
realization by policymakers that the poorest and most vulnerable
households lived under the shadow of wars (World Bank, 2011) and the
focus of policy attention on the stabilization and development of Iraq and
Afghanistan induced many development economists to turn their atten-
tion to the study of violent conict. While the rst studies focused on the
macroeconomic causes and consequences of civil wars, attention soon
turned to the ways in which individuals, households and communities
behave, adapt, make decisions and live in conict-affected contexts and
how these micro-level dynamics feed into the conict itself (Justino et al.,
2013). The growing practice of development economists to collect and
analyze survey data and technological advances in micro data collection
and processing methods in turn encouraged scholars to collect new data
and use existing data in creative ways to better understand how people
live and make decisions in conict settings (e.g. Brück et al., 2014).
The microeconomics literature on violent conict has to date fol-
lowed three strands. Several studies have focused on the analysis of how
individuals, households and communities and, more rarely, rms all
largely seen as victims of violence react to and cope with violent con-
ict (Brück et al., 2013;Justino, 2012;Martin-Shields and Stojetz, 2018).
Another strand of literature has studied how people contribute to con-
ict, whether by choice or under duress, emphasizing the importance of
individual and group agency in conict contexts (Verwimp, 2005;
Krueger, 2007;Humphreys and Weinstein, 2008). A third strand, which
originates from a growing interest of economists in randomized control
trials, has concentrated on assessing the impact of policy interventions on
For a review of this earlier literature see Blattman and Miguel (2010).
This denition includes violent protests, riots, coups, revolutions, civil wars, genocide, international wars, and terrorism (for the latter, see also Krueger, 2007 and
Schneider et al., 2015). It excludes forms of social conict that do not result in mass violence, such as strikes, criminal activities conducted for self-gain that do not
involve mass violence, such as thefts or robberies, and intra-household forms of conict, such as domestic violence (Justino et al., 2013). In this paper, we use the
words violent conict,armed conictand conictinterchangeably.
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Journal of Development Economics 141 (2019) 102297
people living during or after civil wars or at building peace and security
in such contexts (Justino, 2018a;Puri et al., 2017).
Interestingly, many of the advances in all of these areas of research
have been made possible due to close collaboration with related disci-
plines, including political science, international relations, peace research,
conict and security studies, development studies, sociology, and social
psychology. While the microeconomics of conict literature is charac-
terized by the use of rigorous methods common in economics, its topics
and theoretical frameworks are often shared with these disciplines, an
advance that has enriched development economics more broadly.
Many of the studies in this subeld were conducted by scholars
afliated to the Households in Conict Network (HiCN).
This special
issue draws on research presented at the 13th Annual Workshop of the
Households in Conict Network, held in Brussels in November 2017.
Based on these and selected related papers, we discuss some achieve-
ments and future directions in theory, empirics, data and methods. We
proceed by highlighting the contribution of this emerging subeld to
debunking a number of myths in conventional wisdom that have not
survived scientic scrutiny.
2. Five myths about microeconomics research on conict
Myth 1: It is impossible to do rigorous and ethical research in
conict zones.One of the reasons why economists traditionally did not
study war economies or people in war zones was the misconception that
conict-affected areas were out of reach for researchers, for security and
ethical reasons. The community of scholars populating the subeld has
by now amply demonstrated that this is not the case. In fact, as we will
document below, innovative data collection methods are a key charac-
teristic of the subeld. Civil wars in developing countries are often low-
tech, spatially concentrated conicts, where even hotzones can be
visited during pauses in the ghting, especially with the right partners on
the ground. In reality, the closer one gets to a war zone, the easier it is to
judge credibly and safely what kind of work is (not) possible. Further-
more, with the advent of mobile phone technology and remote sensing,
obtaining information from within active war zones has become easier
and safer.
Myth 2: Violent behavior is irrational.The notion that (many) acts
of violence are irrational is a deep-seated human belief, leading earlier
generations of economists (and others) to dismiss violence as irrelevant
for (economic) theorising. Today, we know that there are actors who
have a comparative advantage in using violence and that it may be
rational or optimal to act violently (North et al., 2009). Drawing on a
large literature in political science and sociology (Kalyvas, 2006), one
important intellectual contribution of the microeconomics of conict has
been to make sense of war, and the fact that the choice set of normal
human behavior also includes violent actions, in line with related efforts
in other disciplines.
Myth 3: War stops markets and governance.Most aspects of life,
such as farming, trading, schooling and others activities, continue in
conict zones. Economic activity is likely to become more informal, with
fewer formal taxes paid or collected but with informal markets and
informal revenue raising thriving (Arias et al., 2018;S
anchez de la Sierra,
2018). Households may move into safer areas or activities (for example,
by growing food crops rather than cash crops) and may invest more in
social networks as a coping strategy (Bozzoli and Brück, 2009;Bauer
et al., 2016). At the same time that social and economic life carries on, so
does governance, as shown in emerging studies (S
anchez de la Sierra,
2018;Justino, 2018b). Although state institutions may weaken as
violence spreads, a number of political (often armed) actors occupy these
governance spaces, either by capturing existing or by creating new in-
stitutions - with important implications for economic development in the
short and long term (Justino and Stojetz, 2018).
Myth 4: Conict is a problem of poverty and of the poor.While it
is true that an increasing share of the world's most destitute people live in
conict-affected countries (OECD, 2016), it does not necessarily hold
that the poor have the most to lose from war. Given the distributional
implications of war (Bircan et al., 2017;Justino and Verwimp, 2013;
Scheidel, 2017), sometimes the wealthier have relatively more to lose
from war destruction, particularly when they, their families and their
assets are direct targets of violence. Wealthier and better-connected in-
dividuals and households may, however, also be better able to shield
themselves from conict while the poor may suffer more directly (Ib
and Velez, 2008). Similarly, there is little evidence to support the com-
mon assertion that poverty breeds violence. While there is an associa-
tion between violent conict and low-income countries, largely for
reasons to do with weak institutions, there is almost no evidence of a
concentration of perpetrators of violence among the poor (Verwimp,
2005,Krueger, 2007).
Myth 5: The post-war economy should be reconstructed.A popular
notion, especially in the international policy community, is that, once a
particular war has ended, the economy should be reconstructed
(Addison and Brück, 2009). In most cases, this belief is misguided and
should be replaced by the notion that war induces structural change in
the economy which should then be seized upon to build a better econ-
omy, using appropriate technologies and innovations. On the one hand, is
seems foolish to re-construct the economy (and presumably with it a
social model) that yielded war as its outcome. Be it Europe pre-World
War I or pre-World War II, be it Syria, DRC or Colombia today, it
seems preferable to build post-war economies which reward pro-social,
peaceful behaviour. On the other hand, war induces a massive struc-
tural transformation of any economy. It is entirely unclear if re-building a
bombed out infrastructure will yield the same social and economic
benets as that infrastructure provided pre-war. Local population den-
sity, demand and trade patterns may have changed irreversibly, requiring
a new and unique blueprint for each post-war settlement.
3. Recent achievements
In this section, we review briey how the microeconomic analysis of
violent conict has contributed to development economics as a disci-
pline. We are less interested in documenting exhaustively what has been
published so far,
but rather focus on insights from this subeld that are
of larger relevance to development economists.
Theory. Research on the microeconomics of violent conict has been
largely empirical to date. The empirical richness it has generated has in
turn led to new theoretical contributions. We highlight here three theo-
retical areas of development economics where work in conict-affected
contexts has led to particularly relevant insights: the political economy
of development, household decision-making and social preferences and
The main theoretical premise in most models of economic develop-
ment is the existence of a state with the monopoly of violence, able to
enforce contracts and guarantee property rights. Work on conict areas
in political science has shown that markets and social interactions
continue to operate in the absence of such state institutions and the
fragmentation of political authority (Kalyvas, 2006;Arjona et al., 2015).
These insights have ltered into new economics research showing how
taxation and political authority contribute to quasi-states in conict areas
anchez de la Sierra, 2018), how forms of wartime governance affect
collective action in the aftermath of wars (Justino and Stojetz, 2018), the
HiCN was founded in 2004 and convenes researchers who work on the
causes, functioning and consequences of violent conict at the micro-level using
empirical methods. HiCN hosts the largest collection of working papers on the
microeconomics of conict worldwide. See for further informa-
tion about the network, its publications and its annual workshops.
This has been done, inter alia, by Verwimp et al. (2009),Justino (2009,
2012) and Blattman and Miguel (2010).
Editorial Journal of Development Economics 141 (2019) 102297
role of information by different armed actors in counterinsurgency in-
terventions (Berman et al., 2011), and how different actors control eco-
nomic resources (Dube and Vargas, 2013).
The second theoretical contribution is on household-decision making.
The impact of shocks on household welfare in developing countries has
traditionally been analyzed within household farm models, with a
maximizing utility function at its core (Singh et al., 1986). Empirical
research on household decision-making in conict zones has shown that
households often make decisions such as selling cattle when prices are
low or removing children from schools that appear at rst sight to
minimize rather than maximize their expected utility. This is largely
because violent shocks often lead to a trade-off between maximizing
welfare and maximizing physical security (Justino, 2009). The two rarely
go hand in hand because, for instance, households that may want to keep
their assets in conict areas may be at greater risk of being targets of
violence (Justino and Verwimp, 2013) or because returns to formal ed-
ucation are so low in a war-setting (Bozzoli and Brück, 2009). In addi-
tion, studies from countries affected by armed conict for a very long
time (such as Colombia, Angola, DRC, Somalia or Afghanistan) reveal
that households, rms and entire economies undergo structural change
whereby agents adapt to the war economy, sometimes for decades or
permanently. While initially economists treated conict as a short-term
shock and made use of workhorse household utility maximization
models to advance our understanding of the economic effects of violent
conict, later research has realized that the shock is only the entry point
of a very long period of change and more dynamic models are needed to
capture such changes. These long effects of wars are reviewed and
documented in this special issue by Saurabh Singhal.
The third theoretical contribution is to the understanding of social
preferences and social capital. A new body of literature has documented
how shocks, institutions and other life experiences affect individual
preferences and other-regarding behaviors, challenging a longstanding
premise in neoclassical economic theory that individual preferences are
exogenous and xed (Bowles, 1998;Bozzoli et al., 2011). Recent studies
have shown that exposure to violence may result in higher levels of
pro-social behavior (Voors et al., 2012;Bauer et al., 2016). On the other
hand, a line of work in collective action research has also challenged the
connotation of social capital as a force of goodand focuses instead on
its dark side. Recent papers show that group cooperation and social
cohesion are in fact key to successful rebellion (Petersen, 2001;Wood,
2003) and that it can be successfully employed in a campaign of geno-
cidal violence (Verwimp, 2013).
Empirics. The empirical analysis of violent conict has thrived in the
last ten years, with a focus on understanding the causes and conse-
quences of conict at the micro-level. Inuential studies have docu-
mented the large impacts of civil wars on education, health, labor market
outcomes and social relations. One key nding is the long lasting and
persistent legacies of conict on human capital outcomes, including
when conict is experienced during formative childhood years (Bun-
dervoet et al., 2009,Akresh et al., 2011,Brück et al. forthcoming). While
a large literature in development economics has shown the long term
impact of shocks experienced during childhood (e.g. Almond and Currie,
2011), the literature on conict has emphasized how such effects may
persist despite efforts to rebuild countries and communities, and inde-
pendently on whether the country overall manages to recover to pre-war
economic development levels (Miguel and Roland, 2011). The contri-
butions by Eleonora Bertoni and colleagues and Saurabh Singhal in this
special issue are examples of such research. Bertoni et al. assess the
negative impact of the Boko Haram conict on enrolment and school
attainment, whilst Singhal demonstrates that early-life exposure to
bombing in Vietnam has long-term consequences into adulthood in terms
of adverse mental health, an outcome that has to date not been much
A number of studies have also focused on identifying the causes of
violent conict. Micro-level work by development economists has
focused on the role of poverty, inequality, unemployment, the presence
of natural resources and the political economy of development, some-
times with mixed effects as discussed above.
For instance, in this special
issue, the paper by Suleiman Abu-Bader and Elena Ianchovichina discuss
the puzzle of the Middle East, where conict thrives despite low levels of
poverty and institutional weakness.
More recent research, still in its infancy, has attempted to document
not only the micro-level causes and consequences of conict, but also
how internal conict dynamics may result in different development
outcomes. The literature on conict dynamics has been dominated by
empirical studies in political science on group mobilization (Weinstein,
2007), types of violence (Kalyvas, 2006), rebel governance (Arjona et al.,
2015) and peace-building (Autesserre, 2010). Work by development
economists on how different conict dynamics may affect development
outcomes is only emerging and has to date focused on the role of infor-
mation asymmetries (Berman et al., 2011), and on forced displacement as
a war strategy (Ibanez and V
elez, 2008). The paper by Bertoni et al. in
this special issue advances this literature by showing how conict dy-
namics in this case, specic targets of violence (schools), distance of
households to violent events and the actions of different violent actors
(rebel group, government forces or the police) may result in different
welfare outcomes.
One area with large inuence in recent years has been the role of
international third parties in conict processes, including the role of
external aid (Crost et al., 2014,2016). Two papers in this special issue, by
Travers Barclay Child and by Suleiman Abu-Bader and Elena Ianchovi-
china contribute signicantly to this literature. Child tests the long-
standing question on the impact of aid on conict by disaggregating its
effects across sectors a new question in this line of research. The paper
nds that the effect of aid projects on conict in Afghanistan is hetero-
geneous across sectors, with health projects promoting stability, and
education projects provoking further conict. This is because education
interventions are perceived as an imposition of Western values and ide-
ology. Abu-Bader and Ianchovichina, concentrating on the Middle East,
nd that third party actions, in the form of non-neutral and
non-humanitarian foreign military interventions, exacerbate social con-
ict and intra-group tensions by strengthening religious polarization.
Despite these important advances, much still remains to be done in terms
of understanding how different armed groups, types of violence, patterns
of recruitment, civilian behavior and other conict dynamics may affect
economic development, an issue we return to below.
Data and methods. In the last fteen years or so, signicant advances
have been made in the design, implementation and analysis of household
surveys, lab-in-the-eld experiments and impact evaluations in conict-
affected countries. These advances span issues of measurement, identi-
cation, practical implementation and research ethics. For example, we
have learnt how to ask detailed and sometimes sensitive questions about
how individuals, households and communities are affected by and
respond to their exposure to conict in surveys, or how to combine
different data sources to better understand the interaction between
conict and development (Brück et al., 2016b). The papers in this special
issue are excellent examples of how survey data can be used to under-
stand the impact of conict when combined either with historical conict
data to estimate the long term effect of early age exposure to violence
(Singhal) or with geo-coded conict event data on different types and use
of violence (Bertoni et al.). There have also been notable advances in the
use of impact evaluations in conict-affected areas (Brown et al., 2015;
Puri et al., 2017).
More recently, international organizations and NGOs have also risen
to the challenge by, for instance, considering how to adapt programs and
interventions to conict settings and studying the peacebuilding impli-
cations of otherwise standard programs (Brück et al., 2016a, b). The
subeld has also become a testing ground for new technologies for data
For reviews see Bircan et al. (2017),Blattman and Miguel (2010) and Jus-
tino (2012).
Editorial Journal of Development Economics 141 (2019) 102297
collection and analysis. Efforts have included the use of remote sensing
data to understand economic activity (Shortland et al., 2013) and
war-time crop production (Jaafar and Woertz, 2016) and the develop-
ment of crowd-seeding techniques using cell phones to track conict
dynamics (Van der Windt and Humphreys, 2014). Many of these tech-
niques are also being used in peaceful settings but their use has been
particularly pertinent where safe physical access is a critical concern.
4. Future directions
Looking ahead, we offer a short discussion of what our personal
assessment is of what journals like the Journal of Development Economics
may publish in the microeconomics of conict say ve years hence. This
is not meant to be normative or prescriptive but rather what we think
may stand the test of time (and of peer review).
Theory. One upcoming area of theoretical research in the microeco-
nomics of violent conict concerns the understanding of the political
economy of war zones and implications for economic development. One
particular important question, discussed throughout this paper, is how
economic decisions are made in the absence of a state that holds the
monopoly of violence and is able to enforce social contracts and protect
property rights. Evidence from conict zones shows that markets and
social relations continue to operate under these contexts, sometimes with
favorable outcomes. What is lacking is a framework that may account for
how economic development processes operate under fragmented au-
thority and the threat of (different forms of) violence. Models of non-
contractual social interactions, such as those proposed in Bowles
(2004), combined with more detailed understanding of how different
conict and violence dynamics play on the ground (Kalyvas, 2006), may
become useful as this area of research progresses.
Second, social psychology has had a major inuence on economics
over the last decade. We expect that this trend will also shape future
research on the microeconomics of conict. If past research in the sub-
eld was characterized by studying what people did and how well they
fared doing so, in the future the subjective and the psycho-social may
gain in weight as a topic. The way decision-making is affected by emo-
tions and non-cognitive factors during conict, for example, is almost
virgin territory and yet critical for economic recovery and peacebuilding.
This includes better modeling of how emotions such as hatred, revenge,
envy, shame and fear, among others, may interact with each other and
with institutions to produce behavioral responses that may shape sub-
stantially political and social decisions, including the use of violence, and
economic development processes in conict-affected areas. Research in
political science has shown how emotions shape violence outcomes
(Petersen, 2001;Wood, 2003). Research in economics has produced new
insights into the importance of emotions for economic theory (Loewen-
stein, 2000). In the near future, we predict to see more applications of the
role of emotions, as developed in social psychology and cognitive sci-
ence, to the microeconomics of conict. One particular future area of
fruitful inquiry is the question of how endogenous social preferences
(shaped by emotions) may interact with forms of institutional change
that take place during the conict to shape future conict risks (Justino,
Finally, we expect to see a growth in research on the microeconomic
analysis of peacebuilding. Recent advances in political science have
emphasized the importance of micro-level processes and dynamics to
understand the sustainability of peace in the aftermath of violent con-
icts (Autesserre, 2010). These insights have led to new work in devel-
opment economics on the role of aid and development interventions in
post-conict settings (Esenaliev et al., 2018). We expect these insights
will encourage more interest from development economists on issues
around the political economy of the transition from war to peace, the
delineation of how pro-social behavior during conict may (or not)
foreshadow an emerging peace, the question of whether peace can be
taught or indeed learnt, and the design of institutions and state-building
processes that may facilitate peace.
Empirics. While the empirical literature in conict economics is large
and growing, we still expect to see signicant bursts of work in ve areas.
First, we believe we will see a large growth in studies testing if there are
cross-partial derivatives, for example on effects of economic in-
terventions, such as job interventions or aid projects, on peacebuilding
and state-building outcomes. Many donor projects claim to contribute to
stabilization but fail to test this rigorously (Brück et al., 2016a;Brück and
Ferguson, 2018). We expect such claims to be tested much more exten-
sively in the future.
Second, we see a lot of mileage from extending the microeconomic
analysis of conict to study other forms of political violence, such as riots
and violent protests, and other forms of violence, such as organized
crime, urban violence or domestic violence. Some methods and identi-
cation strategies can be transferred across these topics, providing po-
tential for cross-fertilization.
Third, we believe that the role of rms in conict economies has been
underappreciated in recent years, despite efforts to draw attention to this
topic (Brück et al., 2013). In the private sphere, households are the
smallest institutional unit. In the market economy, rms serve this pur-
pose. It is hence surprising that households receive so much more
attention than rms, especially where market recovery is a policy
Fourth, as discussed above, we see the role of formal and informal
institutions as key to understanding conict-affected economies and how
people and rms operate in them. We thus expect to see more studies
exploring the interactions between informality and conict at the micro
Lastly, the linkages between violent conict and other public bads,
including climate change and domestic violence, remain to be rigorously
analyzed at the micro-level, using both survey data and behavioral ex-
periments. These are grand global challenges but based on past expe-
rience (and, for example, the work of Nobel laureate Nordhaus) there is
no reason to believe that economists cannot make rigorous contributions
to these topics, too.
Data and methods. The rapid ascent of mobile technologies, remote
sensing capacities, digitalization of previously analogue processes, big
data and machine learning techniques offers ample opportunities for
measuring and studying the causes, consequences and dynamics of con-
ict at the micro level. We do not dare to predict where these journeys
will lead, but expect that these methods will be used to collect more and
better data about conict dynamics, its causes and its impact on peoples'
lives and on rms. It is important, however, to issue a word of caution
that new technologies and more data should not substitute for thinking
about what conict is and does to people and what the causal relations
between the key variables there may be. But it is likely that technological
advances may help provide better conict forecasts and better forecasts
of related crises that conict can induce, be they about food insecurity or
displacement. At the same time, we hope that the collection of more and
better survey data in conict settings will not stop. We still do not
enumerate people in war as comprehensively as we do people in peace,
which entails costs in terms of individual and aggregate welfare. There
still are no demographic and health surveillance systems in conict-
affected areas and woefully few panel data studies in conict-
affected, early post-conict or fragile economies. All these are sorely
5. Implications for future research and policy
The discussion above illustrated how the new emerging subeld on
the microeconomics of conict has fruitfully contributed to development
economics in recent years. It has also led, over the last twenty years, to a
strong inclusion of political science and peace research insights into
development economics, which has made the discipline more interesting,
realistic and relevant. What are the implications of these observations for
the future of development economics?
First, we anticipate further strengthening of the impact of
Editorial Journal of Development Economics 141 (2019) 102297
development economics on policy. Over 60 percent of the world's poor
will be concentrated by 2030 in fragile and conict-affected countries,
with some international agencies spending more than half of their budget
on these countries (OECD, 2016). The main contribution by the micro-
economics of conict literature to such policy contexts has been the
development of rigorous data and methods to support international
development actors overcoming violent conict as a development chal-
lenge. However, we continue to observe that development and humani-
tarian organizations have not yet caught up to the large increase in
knowledge in the eld of conict economics. The key challenge in the
next ve years will be to bring development economics to bear fruitfully
on institutional learning about what works and what does not work to the
eld of complex humanitarian emergencies, which are often shaped by
We note also two key academic implications of the new subeld on
the microeconomics of conict. First, the teaching of development eco-
nomics has not kept pace with the recent rapid growth on conict eco-
nomics research, and university curricula will require updating to
account for this important intellectual and policy-relevant trend. Second,
we note with surprise that despite the rapid growth of top-quality
research papers being published in leading economics journals, the
subeld of the microeconomics of conict still does not have a proper
keyword to describe this important new research. It is about time the
American Economic Association created the new JEL Code S for the
economics of conict.
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Editorial Journal of Development Economics 141 (2019) 102297
Philip Verwimp
, Patricia Justino
, Tilman Brück
ECARES, Centre Emile Bernheim and Solvay Brussels School of Economics
and Management, Universit
e libre de Bruxelles, Belgium
Institute of Development Studies, Brighton, UK
ISDC - International Security and Development Center, Berlin, Germany
Leibniz Institute of Vegetable and Ornamental Crops, Großbeeren, Germany
Corresponding author.
E-mail address: (P. Verwimp).
Editorial Journal of Development Economics 141 (2019) 102297
... A nation's ineffectiveness in handling its internal security structures not only invites crime and chaos but also hinders growth, prosperity, collaboration, and togetherness. Peace, tolerance, and thus an improved standard of living are brought about when the appropriate authority is able to reduce crime in society, (Egbegi, et al.,2018;Verwimp et al., 2019). That's why, despite the challenges of COVID and the Russia-Ukraine war, the majority of industrialized nations continue to prosper and grow rapidly. ...
... Security is an important factor that informs investment destinations for investors and businesses; nothing thrives in a hostile environment, (Verwimp et al., 2019;Imhonopi & Urim, 2016). This is because investing in a hostile environment will lead to a waste of national resources and investments. ...
... Africa has the youngest population across the world, and many of these young people are unemployed without economic opportunities. The lack of opportunities for most of the unemployed youth posed a great danger and threat to the peace and survival of others within the community (Verwimp et al., 2019;Egbegi et al., 2018). ...
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There have been several agitations in Nigeria, but none have degenerated into the current barbaric, horrendous, heinous, and despicable dimensions of carnage, massacres, and bloodletting orchestrated by terrorists, bandits, kidnappers, and other organized violent crime syndicates. This study takes a holistic approach using secondary data sources to examine the root causes of the modern-day prevalence of kidnapping, banditry, terrorist attacks, and other organized criminal activities in Nigeria. The study finds that unemployment, excess supply of young people, neglect of certain regions in the distribution of national wealth, lack of government visibility, lack of equal economic opportunity for all, uncontrolled influx of fire arms, poverty, and religious fanaticism contributes to the increasing rate of violent crime in Nigeria. The article finds that the nature of banditry, kidnapping, and terrorist attacks are similar, and the modes of attacks on civilian and government installations are also related. The government should thus become proactively visible throughout the nation via its security agencies and economic development agenda. Additionally, the government should educate local officials and traditional councils on contemporary methods for reporting and addressing violent groups in their communities.
... The increased availability of household survey data in the last decade has led to proliferation of micro-level studies that examine the effects of violent conflict on welfare and economic outcomes of affected populations (e.g., Akresh and de Walque, 2008;Bundervoet et al., 2009;Akresh et al., 2011;Chamarbagwala and Morán, 2011;Merrouche, 2011;Shemyakina, 2011;Akresh et al., 2012;León, 2012;Mansour and Rees, 2012;Akbulut-Yuksel, 2014;Grimard and Laszlo, 2014;Valente, 2014;Pivovarova and Swee, 2015;Brück et al., 2019;Martin-Shields and Stojetz, 2019;Verwimp et al., 2019). However, much of the micro studies on conflicts in African have typically examined delayed outcomes observed several years following a conflict. ...
... The ability to quickly mobilize such surveys in new areas would facilitate this, and would be a worthy target of the international community. 33 This corroborates recent efforts and innovations in remote data collection in fragile states (e.g., Dabalen et al., 2016;Verwimp et al., 2019;Hoogeveen and Utz, 2020). To facilitate effective use of remote data collection methods, it would be useful to maintain access to a much larger database of potential telephone survey respondents, designed for maximum geographical and socioeconomic representativeness, given the constraints of household-level phone access and regional ICT infrastructure. ...
Ethiopia recently experienced a large-scale war that lasted for more than two years. Using unique High-Frequency Phone Survey (HFPS) data, which span several months before and after the outbreak of the war, this paper provides evidence on the immediate impacts of the conflict on households' food security. We also assess potential mechanisms and evaluate impacts on proximate outcomes, including on livelihood activities and access to food markets. We use difference-indifferences and two-way fixed effects estimation to compare trends across affected and unaffected regions (households) and before and after the outbreak of the war. Seven months into the conflict, we find that the war was associated with a 37 percentage points increase in the probability of moderate to severe food insecurity. Using the Armed Conflict Location and Event Data (ACLED), we show that exposure to an additional battle leads to a 1 percentage point increase in the probability of moderate or severe food insecurity. The conflict was associated with significant reduction in access to food through supply chain disruptions and by curtailing non-farm livelihood activities. Non-farm and wage related activities were affected the most, whereas farming activities were relatively more resilient. Our estimates, which likely underestimate the true average effects on the population, constitute novel evidence on the near-real-time impacts of large-scale conflict. Our work highlights the potential of HFPS to monitor active and large-scale conflicts, especially in contexts where conventional data sources are not immediately available.
... For a general review of the effect of violence on different outcomes, seeVerwimp et al. (2019). ...
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This paper evaluates how the July 2005 London terrorist attacks affected Muslim teenagers’ education plans and decisions. The attacks triggered a violent backslash against the Muslim community, which could have affected their incentives to continue in full-time education. I examine panel data on educational attitudes from the “Next Steps” Survey in England and use the month the survey was administered to divide individuals into treatment and control groups. I find that the attacks negatively affected the education plans of Muslims, but not those of any other major religious group. The probability of planning to continue in non-compulsory full-time education decreased by around 4.4% points for Muslims after the attacks. This corresponds to a 69% increase in individuals who were not sure whether to continue or drop out of full-time education. However, this change in plans appears to be a temporary reaction, since it did not affect students’ actual decisions two years later.
... Important theoretical approximations have been formulated in the field of economics of crime and conflict. These are directly related to the works of Hirshleifer (1989Hirshleifer ( , 1991aHirshleifer ( , 1991b, Jia and Skaperdas (2012), and Verwimp et al. (2019) based on microeconomic approaches, which are gradually starting to include the role of income in the optimal decision-making of agents for whom inequality is a given situation that can potentially trigger conflict. When these formulations involve the relationships between economic growth and income inequality, empirical evidence shows heterogeneous and differential results across different econometric techniques, specifications, and samples (Banerjee & Duflo, 2003). ...
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Aim/purpose – This paper aims to examine with new empirical evidence the joint rela- tionships between violence, income inequality, and real income per capita in a simulta- neous equation framework using a worldwide sample at the country level. Design/methodology/approach – To examine the several simultaneous relationships between the variables, this study uses the Seemingly Unrelated Regression (SUR) and Three-Stage Least Squares (3SLS) with two-way fixed effects on a linear system of regression equations. The data used for analysis are sourced from the World Bank, the SWIID inequality database, and the Penn World Table. The final sample for the estima- tions includes 110 countries in the period between 1994 and 2019. Findings – Based on the estimations, the results confirm a strong positive relationship between violence and income inequality. Conversely, a negative but non-robust relation- ship exists between violence and real income per capita. Additionally, the findings show that human capital based on years of schooling plays a critical role in reducing both inequality and violence. Research implications/limitations – The negative relationship between income and violence is sensitive to the sample size. The institutional framework characterized by high levels of democracy does not ensure by itself a reduction in violence. The SUR model is limited to the endogeneity of the variables. Instruments selected for the 3SLS are based on previous lags of the endogenous variables, no external instruments were used. Data availability also compromises extending the estimations with a greater num- ber of controls. Originality/value/contribution – This study considers the explicit joint simultaneous endogenous behavior of income inequality, violence, and real income in a worldwide sample, which contrasts most of the traditional individual-type analysis of previous stud- ies with limited samples. Furthermore, it provides evidence of the importance of human capital and the existence of the non-robust relationships between income and violence. Keywords: violence, inequality, income, simultaneous, worldide. JEL Classification: O11, O50, F52.
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Urbanization and violent conflict have been two global trends gaining more and more momentum in recent years. This has important implications for agricultural development, which unfortunately are still not well understood. Urban proximity is generally associated with agricultural intensification and improved market participation, while farming systems in remote areas are characterized by larger shares of subsistence production. Such differences along the remoteness gradient likely also play a role in how conflict exposure affects agricultural production. That is, we must assume that the effect of conflict on agricultural development is location-dependent—a fact that is generally neglected in empirical analysis. We address this gap by drawing from a unique nationally representative data set of 2,292 paddy farmers in Myanmar and estimating the effect of conflict exposure and travel times on agricultural production during the monsoon season of 2021. By applying multivariate additive models, we allow for nonlinear and interacted effects of conflict exposure and urban proximity, thereby explicitly exploring spatial variation in the effect of conflict exposure. We find strong positive effects of urban proximity on paddy rice intensification and sales, while conflict exposure has disproportionately negative effects in direct proximity to urban centers and very remote areas. For agricultural development—and smallholder incomes in general—this means that productive areas, on the one hand, and the poorest areas of the country, on the other hand, are especially affected by conflict.
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Our study establishes a linkage between household food sufficiency and food sharing behaviour with the reduction of low-intensity, micro level conflict using primary data from 1763 households of eastern Democratic Republic of Congo. We develop a theoretical explanation of such behaviour using the seminal theories of dissatisfaction originating from food insecurity and the reciprocity of gifts in economic anthropology. We first examine if food sufficient households are less likely to engage in low-intensity conflict. Following, we investigate possible heterogeneous effects of food sufficiency, conditional on food sharing behaviour. Using propensity score matching, we find that food sufficiency reduces household conflict risk by an average of around 10 percentage points. Upon conditioning on food sharing behaviour, we find that conflict risk in the subpopulation of food sufficient households is 13.8 percentage points lower for households that share their food while the effects disappear for households that do not share their food. Our results hold through a rigorous set of robustness checks including doubly robust estimator, placebo regression, matching quality tests and Rosenbaum bounds for hidden bias. We conclude that food sufficiency reduces low-intensity conflict for households only in the presence of food sharing behaviour and offer explanations and policy prescriptions.
Renewable energy projects offer prospects for sustainable development and meeting climate goals. However, new renewable energy projects, often driven by donor aid and foreign direct investment, have triggered several challenges, notably those related to conflicts. Struggles over renewable energy projects demonstrate a range of social opposition and injustice that needs to be better understood. This study applies a conflict sensitivity framework to examine how changes in energy systems alter conflict. Using the case study of the Lake Turkana Wind Farm (LTWF) and secondary sources, the study analyses the range of conflict mechanisms identified by project implementers, as well as independent analysts. Conflict mechanisms reveal how energy system changes may affect violence in the project area, as well as the kinds of socio-economic consequences of conflict generated by LTWF. The paper critically examines the discrepancies between the project developer, Lake Turkana Wind Power, and analysts of independent studies in how conflict mechanisms are attributed to pathways of increasing or reducing conflict. The paper finds that the project developer evaluates its impact on conflict in a minimal way, making conflict sensitivity limited. The paper extends examination beyond inequalities in project outcomes and indicates a way to understand conflict sensitivity throughout the energy system.
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Each year billions of US-dollars of humanitarian assistance are mobilised in response to man-made emergencies and natural disasters. Yet, rigorous evidence for how best to intervene remains scant. This dearth reflects that rigorous impact evaluations of humanitarian assistance pose major metho-dological, practical and ethical challenges. While theory-based impact evaluations can crucially inform humanitarian programming, popular methods, such as orthodox RCTs, are less suitable. Instead, factorial designs and quasi-experimental designs can be ethical and robust, answering questions about how to improve the delivery of assistance. We argue that it helps to be prepared, planning impact evaluations before the onset of emergencies. ARTICLE HISTORY
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We study the effect of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict on various education outcomes for Palestinian high-school students in the West Bank during the Second Intifada (2000-2006). Exploiting within-school variation in the number of conflict-related Palestinian fatalities during the academic year, we show that the conflict reduces the probability to pass the final exam, the total test score, and the probability to be admitted to university. We also provide evidence of the heterogeneous effects of the conflict in terms of ability of the student, timing of the conflict events, and type of violent events the student is exposed to. Finally, we discuss a number of possible transmission mechanisms behind our main results. We find evidence suggesting the role of conflict-induced deterioration of school infrastructures and worsening in the psychological well-being of exposed students.
This paper examines the effect of conflict on agricultural production of small farmers. First, an inter-temporal model of agricultural production is developed in which the impact of conflict is transmitted through violent shocks and uncertainty brought about by conflict. We test the model using a unique household survey applied to 4800 households in four micro-regions of Colombia. Our findings suggest households learn to live amid conflict, albeit at a lower income trajectory. When presence of non-state armed actors prolongs, farmers shift to activities with short-term yields and lower profitability from activities that require high investments. If violence intensifies in regions with presence of non-state armed actors, farmers concentrate on subsistence activities.
If we are to correctly assess the root causes of terrorism and successfully address the threat, we must think more like economists do. Alan Krueger’s What Makes a Terrorist, explains why our tactics in the fight against terrorism must be based on more than anecdote, intuition, and speculation.Many popular ideas about terrorists are fueled by falsehoods, misinformation, and fearmongering. Many believe that poverty and lack of education breed terrorism, despite a wealth of evidence showing that most terrorists come from middle-class and often college-educated backgrounds. Krueger closely examines the factors that motivate individuals to participate in terrorism, drawing inferences from terrorists’ own backgrounds and the economic, social, religious, and political environments in the societies from which they come. He describes which countries are the most likely breeding grounds for terrorists, and which ones are most likely to be their targets. Krueger addresses the economic and psychological consequences of terrorism and puts the threat squarely into perspective, revealing how our nation’s sizable economy is diverse and resilient enough to withstand the comparatively limited effects of most terrorist strikes. He also calls on the media to be more responsible in reporting on terrorism.Bringing needed clarity to one of the greatest challenges of our generation, this 10th anniversary edition of What Makes a Terrorist features a new introduction by the author that discusses the lessons learned in the past decade from the rise of ISIS and events like the 2016 Pulse nightclub attack in Orlando, Florida.
During the previous decade there has been an increased focus on the role of food security in conflict processes, both in the academic and policy communities. While the policy community has pushed forward with new programs, the academic debate about the causal linkages between food security and conflict remains debated. This article emphasizes the endogeneity that characterizes the coupling between food (in)security and violent conflict. We make three contributions. First, we define conflict and food security using the standard Uppsala Conflict Data Program and the FAO databases, and illustrate how intervening factors influence the relationship between conflict and food security at the micro and macro levels. Second, we provide a comprehensive review of the literature on linkages between food security and conflict, focusing on findings that account for endogeneity issues and have a causal interpretation. Third, we highlight policy-affecting data gaps beyond endogeneity and chart ways forward to improve the existing bodies of data and support new data collection to fill the academic gaps and support policy making. Our article frames the ongoing debate around the causal relationship between food security and conflict, while also providing policy makers with analysis of data challenges and opportunities for innovation in food security and peacebuilding.
This paper reviews an emerging body of literature on governance interventions in countries with ongoing violent conflict, recovering from conflict or at risk of conflict. The review focusses on three broad intervention areas. The first includes interventions that support local governance and the improvement of local capacity for collective action. The second area comprises interventions that strengthen the accountability, legitimacy, and reach of state institutions, including the improvement of information and the provision of public goods. The third centres on interventions aimed at changing social norms that shape systems of governance. Ways forward for future research and policy are proposed.
This article analyses the relationship between governance and violence in light of the World Development Report 2017 on Governance and the Law. The article discusses the approach taken by the Report to link governance and violence and highlights the importance of new research and findings on forms of wartime governance, and their implications for international politics and development interventions in conflict and postconflict contexts.