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JEL--mar10_blattman - Journal of Economic Literature 2010...

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Journal of Economic Literature 2010, 48:1, 3–57 http:www.aeaweb.org/articles.php?doi = 10.1257/jel.48.1.3 3 1. Civil War and the Study of Economics I nternal civil conflict has been common- place during the past half-century, a fact that, until recently, escaped the notice of most economists. Civil wars , or those internal conflicts that count more than 1,000 battle deaths in a single year, have afflicted a third of all nations. Counting civil conflicts , or those that count at least twenty-five battle deaths per annum, increases the incidence to more than Civil War Christopher Blattman and Edward Miguel * Most nations have experienced an internal armed conflict since 1960. Yet while civil war is central to many nations’ development, it has stood at the periphery of economics research and teaching. The past decade has witnessed a long overdue explosion of research into war’s causes and consequences. We summarize progress, identify weaknesses, and chart a path forward. Why war? Existing theory is pro- vocative but incomplete, omitting advances in behavioral economics and making little progress in key areas, like why armed groups form and cohere, or how more than two armed sides compete. Empirical work finds that low per capita incomes and slow economic growth are both robustly linked to civil war. Yet there is lit- tle consensus on the most effective policies to avert conflicts or promote postwar recovery. Cross-country analysis of war will benefit from more attention to causal identification and stronger links to theory. We argue that micro-level analysis and case studies are also crucial to decipher war’s causes, conduct, and consequences. We bring a growth theoretic approach to the study of conflict consequences to high- light areas for research, most of all the study of war’s impact on institutions. We conclude with a plea for new and better data. ( JEL D72, D74, O17) * Blattman: Yale University. Miguel: University of California, Berkeley and NBER. We thank Ana Arjona, Karen Ballentine, Bob Bates, Tim Besley, David Card, Ernesto Dal Bó, Jesse Driscoll, Bill Easterly, Jim Fearon, Karen Ferree, Mary Kay Gugerty, Anke Hoeffler, Patri- cia Justino, Stathis Kalyvas, David Leonard, Jason Lyall, Andrew Mack, Daniel Maliniak, Gerard Padro-i-Miquel, Torsten Persson, Dan Posner, Robert Powell, Vijaya Ram- achandran, Debraj Ray, Marta Reynal-Querol, Gérard Roland, Shanker Satyanath, Jacob Shapiro, Ryan Sheely, Stergios Skaperdas, Abbey Steele, Julia Strauss, Dennis de Tray, Philip Verwimp, Barbara Walter, Jeremy Weinstein, our anonymous referees and the editor, Roger Gordon, for comments and discussion. We are deeply grateful to our coauthors on related research: Jeannie Annan, Samuel Bazzi, Bernd Beber, John Bellows, Khristopher Carlson, John Dykema, Rachel Glennerster, Dyan Mazurana, Gerard Roland, Sebastian Saiegh, Shanker Satyanath, and Ernest Sergenti. Camille Pannu, Abbey Steele, and Mela- nie Wasserman provided superb research assistance.
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Journal of Economic Literature, Vol. XLVIII (March 2010) 4 half. 1 This internal warfare is not just extremely common, it is also persistent.
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