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Water scarcity and rioting: Disaggregated evidence from Sub-Saharan Africa

Christian Almer, Jérémy Laurent-Lucchetti and Manuel Oechslin

Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, 2017, vol. 86, issue C, 193-209

Abstract: It is often purported that unusually dry weather conditions provoke small-scale social conflict—riots—by intensifying the competition for water. The present paper explores this hypothesis, using data from Sub-Saharan Africa. We rely on monthly data at the cell level (0.5×0.5 degrees), an approach that is tailored to the short-lived and local nature of the phenomenon. Using a drought index to proxy for weather shocks, we find that a one-standard-deviation fall in the index (signaling drier conditions) raises the likelihood of riots in a given cell and month by 8.3%. We further observe that the effect of unusually dry weather conditions is substantially larger in cells with a lower availability of water resources (such as rivers and lakes), a finding that supports the significance of the competition-for-water mechanism.

Keywords: Small-scale conflict; Riots; Water shocks; Disaggregated data (search for similar items in EconPapers)
JEL-codes: D74 O13 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2017
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Persistent link: https://EconPapers.repec.org/RePEc:eee:jeeman:v:86:y:2017:i:c:p:193-209

DOI: 10.1016/j.jeem.2017.06.002

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Journal of Environmental Economics and Management is currently edited by M.A. Cole, A. Lange, D.J. Phaneuf, D. Popp, M.J. Roberts, M.D. Smith, C. Timmins, Q. Weninger and A.J. Yates

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