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Can Irrigation Infrastructure Mitigate the Effect of Rainfall Shocks on Conflict? Evidence from Indonesia

Nicolas Gatti, Kathy Baylis and Benjamin Crost

American Journal of Agricultural Economics, 2021, vol. 103, issue 1, 211-231

Abstract: This article provides evidence that rainfall shocks affect conflict through their effect on agricultural production and that irrigation infrastructure can mitigate this effect. Using data from Indonesia, we document that low rainfall during the agricultural season decreases agricultural production and increases civil conflict. We then show that the rainfall‐conflict link is attenuated by the presence of irrigation infrastructure in a district. This attenuating effect is specific to irrigation infrastructure; we find no evidence for a similar effect of hydropower dams. Our results are stronger for small‐scale conflicts over natural resources and popular justice than for conflicts over ethnic identity or ethnic separatism. These results are robust to controlling for interactions between rainfall and a wide range of socio‐economic and geographic district characteristics. We conclude that adaptive policies that mitigate the negative effects of weather shocks on agriculture may also prevent conflict.

Date: 2021
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https://doi.org/10.1002/ajae.12092

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