EconPapers    
Economics at your fingertips  
 

War Signals: A Theory of Trade, Trust and Conflict

Dominic Rohner (), Mathias Thoenig () and Fabrizio Zilibotti ()

Cambridge Working Papers in Economics from Faculty of Economics, University of Cambridge

Abstract: We construct a dynamic theory of civil conflict hinging on inter-ethnic trust and trade. The model economy is inhabitated by two ethnic groups. Inter-ethnic trade requires imperfectly observed bilateral investments and one group has to form beliefs on the average propensity to trade of the other group. Since conflict disrupts trade, the onset of a conflict signals that the aggressor has a low propensity to trade. Agents observe the history of conflicts and update their beliefs over time, transmitting them to the next generation. The theory bears a set of testable predictions. First, war is a stochastic process whose frequency depends on the state of endogenous beliefs. Second, the probability of future conflicts increases after each conflict episode. Third, "accidental" conflicts that do not reflect economic fundamentals can lead to a permanent breakdown of trust, plunging a society into a vicious cycle of recurrent conflicts (a war trap). The incidence of conflict can be reduced by policies abating cultural barriers, fostering inter-ethnic trade and human capital, and shifting beliefs. Coercive peace policies such as peacekeeping forces or externally imposed regime changes have instead no persistent effects.

Keywords: Beliefs; civil war; conflict; cultural transmission; ethnic fractionalization; human capital investments; learning; matching; peacekeeping; stochastic war; strategic complementarity; trade. (search for similar items in EconPapers)
JEL-codes: D74 D83 O15 Q34 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
New Economics Papers: this item is included in nep-dge, nep-evo, nep-int and nep-soc
Date: 2011-04-11
References: View references in EconPapers View complete reference list from CitEc
Citations: View citations in EconPapers (5) Track citations by RSS feed

Downloads: (external link)
http://www.econ.cam.ac.uk/research-files/repec/cam/pdf/cwpe1136.pdf

Related works:
Journal Article: War Signals: A Theory of Trade, Trust, and Conflict (2013) Downloads
Working Paper: War Signals: A Theory of Trade, Trust and Conflict (2011) Downloads
Working Paper: War Signals: A Theory of Trade, Trust and Conflict (2011) Downloads
Working Paper: War Signals: A Theory of Trade, Trust and Conflict (2011) Downloads
Working Paper: War Signals: A Theory of Trade, Trust and Conflict (2011) Downloads
Working Paper: War signals: a theory of trade, trust and conflict (2011) Downloads
This item may be available elsewhere in EconPapers: Search for items with the same title.

Export reference: BibTeX RIS (EndNote, ProCite, RefMan) HTML/Text

Persistent link: https://EconPapers.repec.org/RePEc:cam:camdae:1136

Access Statistics for this paper

More papers in Cambridge Working Papers in Economics from Faculty of Economics, University of Cambridge
Bibliographic data for series maintained by Jake Dyer ().

 
Page updated 2019-12-08
Handle: RePEc:cam:camdae:1136