Climate and Civil War: Is the Relationship Robust?

17 Pages Posted: 12 Oct 2010 Last revised: 4 Jun 2021

See all articles by Marshall Burke

Marshall Burke

University of California, Berkeley; Stanford University - Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies

John Dykema

affiliation not provided to SSRN

David Lobell

Stanford University

Edward Miguel

University of California, Berkeley - Department of Economics; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

Shanker Satyanath

New York University (NYU) - Wilf Family Department of Politics

Date Written: October 2010

Abstract

A recent paper by Burke et al. (henceforth "we") finds a strong historical relationship between warmer- than-average temperatures and the incidence of civil war in Africa (Burke et al. 2009). These findings have recently been challenged by Buhaug (2010) who finds fault with how we controlled for other potential explanatory variables, how we coded civil wars, and with our choice of historical time period and climate dataset. We demonstrate that Buhaug's proposed method of controlling for confounding variables has serious econometric shortcomings and show that our original findings are robust to the use of different climate data and to alternate codings of major war. Using Buhaug's preferred climate data under sound econometric assumptions yields results that suggest an even stronger relationship between temperature and conflict for the 1981-2002 period than we originally reported. We do find that our historical relationship between temperature and conflict weakens over the last decade, a period of unprecedented African economic growth and very few large wars.

Suggested Citation

Burke, Marshall and Dykema, John and Lobell, David and Miguel, Edward and Satyanath, Shanker, Climate and Civil War: Is the Relationship Robust? (October 2010). NBER Working Paper No. w16440, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1689372

Marshall Burke (Contact Author)

University of California, Berkeley ( email )

310 Barrows Hall
Berkeley, CA 94720
United States

Stanford University - Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies ( email )

Stanford, CA 94305
United States

John Dykema

affiliation not provided to SSRN ( email )

No Address Available

David Lobell

Stanford University ( email )

Stanford, CA 94305
United States

Edward Miguel

University of California, Berkeley - Department of Economics ( email )

549 Evans Hall #3880
Berkeley, CA 94720-3880
United States

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

Shanker Satyanath

New York University (NYU) - Wilf Family Department of Politics ( email )

715 Broadway
New York, NY 10003
United States

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