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Citation Information

Type Journal Article - SSRN
Title Economic shocks and varieties of conflict: Global prices, real income and local violence in Africa
Publication (Day/Month/Year) 2016
Page numbers 1-83
We study the impact of plausibly exogenous shocks to world food prices on violence across the African continent using panel data at the level of a 0.5 degree grid cell. In food-producing cells, higher prices reduce conflict over the control of territory (what we call “factor conflict”) and increase conflict over the appropriation of surplus (“output conflict”). We argue that this difference arises because higher prices raise the opportunity cost of soldiering for producers, while simultaneously inducing net consumers to appropriate increasingly valuable surplus as their real wages fall. In food-consuming cells, higher prices increase both factor conflict and output conflict, as poor consumers turn to soldiering and appropriation in order to maintain a minimum consumption target. We validate the cell-level finding on output conflict using geocoded survey data on interpersonal theft and violence against farmers. Ignoring the
distinction between producer and consumer effects leads to attenuated estimates.

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