International Commodity Prices and Civil War Outbreak: New Evidence for Sub-Saharan Africa and Beyond

91 Pages Posted: 22 Jan 2018

See all articles by Antonio Ciccone

Antonio Ciccone

Universitat Pompeu Fabra - Faculty of Economic and Business Sciences; Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR); Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA)

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Date Written: January 2018

Abstract

A new dataset by Bazzi and Blattman (2014) allows examining the effects of international commodity prices on the risk of civil war outbreak with more comprehensive data. I find that international commodity price downturns sparked civil wars in Sub-Saharan Africa. Another finding with the new dataset is that commodity price downturns also sparked civil wars beyond Sub-Saharan Africa since 1980. Effects are sizable relative to the baseline risk of civil war outbreak. My conclusions contrast with those of Bazzi and Blattman, who argue that the new dataset rejects that commodity price downturns cause civil wars. The reason is that I calculate commodity price shocks using time invariant (fixed) export shares as commodity weights. Bazzi and Blattman also calculate commodity price shocks using export shares as commodity weights but but the exports shares they use are time varying. Using time-invariant export shares as commodity weights ensures that time variation in price shocks solely reflects changes in international commodity prices. Price shocks based on time varying export shares partly reflect (possibly endogenous) changes in the quantity and variety of countries' exports, which jeopardizes causal estimation. I also show that setting time-invariant export shares equal to average export shares over the sample period, can be a way of dealing with attenuation bias due to mismeasured export shares. When I differentiate between agricultural commodities on the one hand and minerals, oil, and gas on the other, I find stronger increases in the risk of civil war outbreak following downturns in agricultural commodity prices.

Keywords: civil wars, commodity price downturns

JEL Classification: E3, O1, Q1, Q10

Suggested Citation

Ciccone, Antonio, International Commodity Prices and Civil War Outbreak: New Evidence for Sub-Saharan Africa and Beyond (January 2018). CEPR Discussion Paper No. DP12625. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3106829

Antonio Ciccone (Contact Author)

Universitat Pompeu Fabra - Faculty of Economic and Business Sciences ( email )

Ramon Trias Fargas 25-27
Barcelona, 08005
Spain
+34 93 542 1669 (Phone)
+34 93 542 1746 (Fax)

Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR)

London
United Kingdom

Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA)

P.O. Box 7240
Bonn, D-53072
Germany

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