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Poverty and civil wars

Simeon Djankov , Marta Reynal-Querol, 29 October 2008

Would reducing poverty reduce the risk of civil war in poor countries? This column explains that the relationship between poverty and civil conflicts is probably driven by other factors omitted from previous econometric specifications, such as colonial history. To reduce the probability of civil war, policies need to address other structural problems.

Full Article: Poverty does not breed civil war

However, the correlation we see between poverty and civil war could be spurious – it could be accounted for by historical phenomena that jointly determine income evolution and conflict in the post-WWII era. This result could be an artefact of simultaneity problems – the incidence of civil wars and poverty may be driven by the same determinants, some of which are probably missing in the typical econometric specifications.

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