The Economic Motivations of Civil War
Buck, Steven J.
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Paul Collier, with the aid of Anke Hoeffier and Herschel Grossman, has spearheaded an effort by the World Bank in recent years to discover the causes of civil conflict. (The World Bank Group 2002) For a long time, the prevalent notion has been that socioeconomic factors such as ethnic and religious diversity, inequality, and a lack of democracy were the leading causes of civil war. However, through Collier's studies, it was discovered that highly fractionalized nations are at no more risk of civil war than those that are more homogenous. Instead, Collier determined that civil war outbreak is tied to economic conditions. He constructed a model based on utility theory, with the basic premise stating that rebels will initiate civil war if the supposed benefits outweigh the costs of rebellion. Four variables, initial income, ethno-linguistic fractionalization, the amount of natural resources, and initial population size, were found to be strong determinants of the likelihood and duration of internal conflict. In this paper, I show exactly how Collier has debunked a long-held belief and used empirical models to show that civil war is the result of greed, not grievance.