Tag Archives: Sub-Saharan Africa

PUBLICATIONS: The Climate and Civil War Relationship

16 Dec

A series of recent papers by Marshall Burke, John Dykema, David Lobell, Edward Miguel and DRI Adjunct Faculty Shanker Satyanath documented evidence that warming temperatures caused by climate change increase the risk of civil war in Africa.

The authors first established this connection in a published 2009 study, finding that warmer-than-average temperatures were linked to large increases in civil war in Africa between 1981 – 2002, with grave implications for the future:

We find strong historical linkages between civil war and temperature in Africa, with warmer years leading to significant increases in the likelihood of war. When combined with climate model projections of future temperature trends, this historical response to temperature suggests a roughly 54% increase in armed conflict incidence by 2030, or an additional 393,000 battle deaths if future wars are as deadly as recent wars. Our results suggest an urgent need to reform African governments’ and foreign aid donors’ policies to deal with rising temperatures.

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WORKING PAPER: Understanding Transitory Rainfall Shocks, Economic Growth and Civil Conflict

15 Dec

Leaving aside these data and econometric issues, Ciccone’s surprising results do not survive obvious robustness checks.

Edward Miguel and DRI Affiliated Faculty Shankar Satyanath rebut Antonio Ciccone’s (2010) assertion  that higher rainfall levels are, in fact, linked to more conflict — a rejection of the Miguel, Satyanath and Serengeti (2004) conclusion that higher rainfall is associated with less conflict and more economic growth. But Ciccone’s methods might have had some very fundamental errors:

Miguel, Satyanath and Sergenti (2004) use rainfall variation as an instrument to show that economic growth is negatively related to civil conflict in sub-Saharan Africa. In the reduced form regression they find that higher rainfall is associated with less conflict. Ciccone (2010) claims that this conclusion is ‘erroneous’ and argues that higher rainfall levels are actually linked to more conflict. In this paper we show that the results in Ciccone’s paper are based on incorrect STATA code, outdated conflict data, a weak first stage regression and a questionable application of the GMM estimator. Leaving aside these data and econometric issues, Ciccone’s surprising results do not survive obvious robustness checks. We therefore conclude that Ciccone’s main claims are largely incorrect and reconfirm the original result by Miguel, Satyanath and Sergenti (2004), finding that adverse economic growth shocks, driven by falling rainfall, increases the likelihood of civil conflict in sub-Saharan Africa.

Read the paper.