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Famine Mortality, Rational Political Inactivity, and International Food Aid


Thomas Plümper


University of Essex - Department of Government

Eric Neumayer


London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE)

May 1, 2008

LSE PSPE Working Paper No. 2

Abstract:     
Famine mortality is preventable by government action and yet some famines kill. We develop a political theory of famine mortality based on the selectorate theory of Bueno de Mesquita et al. (2002, 2003). We argue that it can be politically rational for a government, democratic or not, to remain inactive in the face of severe famine threat. We derive the testable hypotheses that famine mortality is possible in democracies, but likely to be lower than in autocracies. Moreover, a larger share of people being affected by famine relative to population size together with large quantities of international food aid being available will lower mortality in both regime types, but more so in democracies.

Number of Pages in PDF File: 41

Keywords: famine, mortality, food aid, democracy, autocracy, developing countries

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Date posted: December 24, 2007 ; Last revised: April 14, 2009

Suggested Citation

Plümper, Thomas and Neumayer, Eric, Famine Mortality, Rational Political Inactivity, and International Food Aid (May 1, 2008). LSE PSPE Working Paper No. 2. Available at SSRN: http://ssrn.com/abstract=1078125 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.1078125

Contact Information

Thomas Plümper
University of Essex - Department of Government ( email )
Wivenhoe Park
Colchester, Essex CO4 3SQ
United Kingdom
HOME PAGE: http://www.polsci.org/pluemper
Eric Neumayer (Contact Author)
London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE) ( email )
Houghton Street
WC2A 2AE London
United Kingdom
+44 207 955 7598 (Phone)
+44 207 955 7412 (Fax)
HOME PAGE: http://personal.lse.ac.uk/neumayer
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