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Civil conflicts in Africa: Climate, economic shocks, nighttime lights and spill-over effects

Achim Ahrens

No 1501, SEEC Discussion Papers from Spatial Economics and Econometrics Centre, Heriot Watt University

Abstract: This study examines the relationship between weather conditions, economic shocks and civil conflicts in Africa. While most studies rely on country-level data sets, this study exploits a panel data set of African first-order administrative units covering 1992-2010. Since sub-national gross domestic product for Africa is either unavailable or of poor quality, nighttime light data from satellites is exploited to predict economic growth at the sub-national level. In addition to IV/GMM estimation, the Lasso estimator is employed in order to generate optimal instruments for economic growth from rainfall and temperature variables. It is demonstrated that the Lasso estimator successfully addresses the challenges arising from non-linearities, heterogeneity across climate regions and weak identification. Furthermore, spatial econometric methods account for conflict spill-overs via political, geographical and ethnic ties. Estimation results provide no evidence that economic growth shocks have a significant causal impact on violence, but prices of capital-intensive commodities seem to be associated with civil conflicts.

Keywords: Civil conflict; Africa; economic growth; nighttime lights; spatial econometrics; Lasso; many instruments (search for similar items in EconPapers)
JEL-codes: C23 C26 Q34 D74 C52 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
New Economics Papers: this item is included in nep-afr, nep-dev, nep-env and nep-gro
Date: 2015
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