Poverty and civil war events: A disaggregated study of Liberia

  • Hegre H
  • Østby G
  • Raleigh C
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This article examines the link between subnational poverty and the location of civil war events. Drawing on the ACLED dataset, which breaks internal conflicts down to indi-vidual events at the local level, we take a disaggregated approach to the study of con-flict. Local-level socioeconomic data are taken from the Liberian Demographic and Health Survey. With geographical cells of approximately 76 km 2 as units of analysis, we test how absolute and relative welfare affect the presence and number of conflict events during the 1989-2002 Liberian civil war. We control for neighboring conflict events, distance to Monrovia and national borders, population density, diamond depos-its, and ethnic affiliations. War events were more frequent in the richer locations. This may provide better support for " opportunity " explanations than for " relative depriva-tion " theories of conflict, but we argue that the relative weakness of the Liberian government makes it difficult to distinguish between the two. The direct link from economic development to domestic peace is among the most robust findings in empirical studies at the country level (see, e.g., Collier and Hoeffler 2004; de Soysa 2002; Fearon and Laitin 2003; Hegre and Sambanis 2006). However, although there is agreement on the existence of this empirical relationship, there is no consensus on the theoretical explanation for it. Fearon and Laitin (2003) maintain that gross domestic product (GDP) per capita is a proxy for state capacity,

Author-supplied keywords

  • Civil war
  • Disaggregated data
  • GIS
  • Liberia
  • Poverty

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