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Resource Discovery and Conflict in Africa: What Do the Data Show?

Rabah Arezki, Sambit Bhattacharyya and Nemera Mamo ()

No 2015-14, CSAE Working Paper Series from Centre for the Study of African Economies, University of Oxford

Abstract: The empirical relationship between natural resources and conflict in Africa is not very well understood. Using a novel geocoded dataset on resource discovery and conflict we are able to construct a quasi-natural experiment to explore the causal effect of (giant and major) oil and mineral discoveries on conflict in Africa at the grid level corresponding to a spatial resolution of 0.5 x 0.5 degree covering the period 1946 to 2008. Contrary to conventional wisdom, we find no evidence of natural resources triggering conflict in Africa after controlling for grid-specific fixed factors and time varying common shocks. Resource discovery appears to have improved local income measured by nightlights which could be reducing the conflict likelihood. We observe little or no heterogeneity in the relationship across resource type, size of discovery, pre and post conclusion of the cold war, and institutional quality. The relationship remains unchanged at the regional and national levels.

Keywords: Resource discovery; Conflict onset; Conflict incidence; Conflict intensity (search for similar items in EconPapers)
JEL-codes: D72 O11 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2015
New Economics Papers: this item is included in nep-afr, nep-dev, nep-ene, nep-env and nep-pol
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