Does covid-19 raise the risk of violent conflict?

In a short article on the Washington Post’s Monkey Cage Blog, my colleague Colette Salemi writes about our research on trends in conflict events and the coronavirus pandemic around the world. Basically, we really lack sufficient evidence to make credible claims about the relationship between the pandemic and violent conflict and simple time-series analysis highlights that the relationship may be highly variable across contexts.

Continue reading

Export Crops and Extra Conflict

I recently stumbled upon this new(ish) paper, by Benjamin Crost and Joseph Felter published in the June 2020 issue of the Journal of the European Economic Association. This paper shows a plausibly causal link between the export value of agricultural products (e.g. bananas in this case) and violent civil conflict. This is an important and interesting link because decades-old theories of economic development suggest the shift to high-value (and export-oriented) agricultural production is an important mechanism driving economic growth and poverty reduction.

Let’s dig into this bananas paper! (Okay, sorry about that.)

Continue reading

Do Commodity Price Shocks Cause Conflict?

The natural resource curse (sometimes called “Dutch disease”) was one of my first fascinations in development economics. It represents the apparent “paradox” of a boom in natural resource wealth leading to less economic growth. There are, of course, numerous theories as to why this observation persists. One popular theory, that is repeatedly tested empirically, is that sharp and dramatic changes in the prices of these resources lead to conflict, which in turn slows economic growth.

Continue reading

COVID-19 and Conflict—New Working Paper

What does the threat of and the policy response to COVID-19 mean for inter-group conflict worldwide?

This is the question at the center of a new (and short) working paper, by me and my super-star colleague Colette Salemi. In this paper, using data from the ACLED Project, we track time-series trends for different types of inter-group conflict and evaluate discernible changes taking place as global awareness of COVID-19 spread.

Continue reading

My Job Market Paper, in Blog Form

In the fall of 2013, while living in Kitale—a town in Western Kenya—I remember reading through several job market papers posted in blog form on the World Bank’s Development Impact blog. The experience, in part, inspired me to pursue graduate studies in development economics.

Continue reading

‘Conflict Minerals’ and the Dodd Frank Act – New Working Paper

Seemingly everyone knows about ‘conflict minerals’. They are probably in our phones and laptops—even some of our jewelry is made out of them. Almost everyone wants to make ‘conflict minerals’ a thing of the past. Despite having little to do with Wall Street financial reform, Section 1502 of the Dodd-Frank Act implemented a reporting requirement on all publicly traded companies in the US. Modeled after the “Kimberly Process”, the international regulation on ‘blood diamonds’, the Dodd-Frank Act requires companies to report annually on audits investigating the presence of ‘conflict minerals’ in their supply chain.

Continue reading

Links I Like [Warlord Edition]

1. Remember Invisible Children? That organization you either heard about in college or heard about from your college aged relative. Their impact may be unmatched among college students. In fact, a few friends and I founded a student organization in the wake of a failed Invisible Children rally at our college. Their impact on the ground in Northern Uganda, however, is ambiguous and contentious. The following article by Buzzfeed (!) is actually really great! It summarizes the rise and fall of an organization and its leader while wading through the hailstorm that was the aftermath of IC’s most popular viral video. Has Invisible Children Grown Up

Continue reading