Mathias Thoenig
Université de Lausanne



(Friday, 20th May 2016)

Title : Political Economy of Conflicts

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There's rarely a moment when civil conflict isn't raging somewhere in the world. And persistent ethnic conflicts are a major burden on economic and institutional development. Since 1945, over 16 million people are estimated to have died in 127 civil wars, a majority corresponding to ethnic conflicts. A large body of empirical literature documents that poverty, weak institutions, abundance of natural resources, ethnic cleavages, and various demographic and geographical factors increase the risk of civil war onsets. Understandably, nations and international institutions go to great lengths to keep the peace, and deter and avoid fighting whenever possible. Popular methods for minimizing conflict include peacekeeping efforts backed by international bodies such as the United Nations or the African Union, as well as externally influenced regime change. Yet all too often these interventions are unsuccessful.

This lecture will first provide an overview of the recent literature on the causes and consequences of civil conflicts. Then, in the context of the Congo Civil War, we will discuss how quantitative tools can be used to design optimal pacification policies.

Bibliographical references :

Fearon and Laitin, “Ethnicity, Insurgency, and Civil War”, American Political Science Review, 97, 1 (Feb 2003): pp.75-90

Miguel, Satyanath, Sergenti, “Economic Shocks and Civil Conflict: An Instrumental Variables Approach”, Journal of Political Economy, 2004, vol. 112, no. 4

Montalvo and Reynal-Querol, “Ethnic Polarization, Potential Conflict, and Civil Wars, American Economic Review , vol. 95, no. 3, June 2005

Besley and Persson ,” The Logic of Political Violence”,  The Quarterly Journal of Economics (2011) 126 (3): 1411-1445.

Must read reference : Koenig M., Rohner D.,Thoenig M. & Zilibotti F., 2015, “Networks in Conflict Theory and Evidence from the Great War of Africa“, CEPR Working Paper 10348