Farming or Fighting? Agricultural Price Shocks and Civil War in Africa

This article links lower economic returns in the labor-intensive agricultural sector to a higher risk of armed conflict at the local level. It argues that income shocks, followed by rising unemployment and lower wages in the rural economy, facilitate rebel recruitment and strengthen civilian support for rebel movements. Focusing on Africa, the article introduces a location-specific measure of changes to the value of local agricultural output by combining sub-national crop production maps with data on movements in global agricultural prices. The results show that negative changes to the local agricultural price index significantly and substantially increase the risk of violent events.

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