The Effect of Natural Resources on Civil War Reconsidered

Rafael Reuveny, Katherine Barbieri


This paper reconsiders the role of natural resources in civil war in light of the continuing debate over whether resource scarcity/abundance fuels conflict. We argue the role of resources in civil war is due to their life-preserving and income-generating attributes, not their scarcity or abundance per se; and the effect may differ across resources and depending upon whether we examine the onset versus the presence of civil war. We highlight the need to consider comprehensive sets of life-preserving and income-generating resources in tandem, as any given resource may affect others by way of belonging to the same economy and physical environment. The empirical investigation employs a large N statistical analysis of civil wars. The independent variables include broad sets of life-preserving resources, including key environmental conditions pertaining to hospitable climate, and income-generating resources. The results indicate that the role of resources in civil war vary by resource. The size of effect varies depending on whether we examine civil war onset or presence, but the sign of the effect essentially does not.

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International Journal of Social Science Studies   ISSN 2324-8033 (Print)   ISSN 2324-8041 (Online)

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