Natural Resource Distribution and the Multiple Forms of Civil War

30 Pages Posted: 1 Aug 2011 Last revised: 11 Aug 2011

Date Written: 2011


We examine how natural resource location, rent sharing and fighting capacities of different groups matter for ethnic conflict. A new type of bargaining failure due to multiple types of potential conflicts (and hence multiple threat points) is identified. The theory predicts conflict to be more likely when the geographical distribution of natural resources is uneven and when a minority group has better chances to win a secessionist rather than a centrist conflict. For sharing rents, resource proportionality is salient in avoiding secessions and strength proportionality in avoiding centrist civil wars. We present empirical evidence that is consistent with the model.

Keywords: Natural Resources, Conflict, Strength Proportionality, Resource Proportionality, Secession, Bargaining Failure

JEL Classification: C72, D74, Q34

Suggested Citation

Morelli, Massimo and Rohner, Dominic, Natural Resource Distribution and the Multiple Forms of Civil War (2011). APSA 2011 Annual Meeting Paper, Available at SSRN:

Massimo Morelli (Contact Author)

Bocconi University ( email )

Via Roentgen 1
Milan, 20136

Dominic Rohner

University of Zurich ( email )

Muehlebachstrasse 86
Zurich, 8008

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