Famine Mortality, Rational Political Inactivity, and International Food Aid
41 Pages Posted: 3 Aug 2006 Last revised: 19 Apr 2015
Date Written: May 1, 2008
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.
Keywords: famine, mortality, food aid, democracy, autocracy, developing countries
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