Greed and Grievance in Civil War

May 2000 Of the 27 major armed conflicts that occurred in 1999, all but two took place within national boundaries. As an impediment to development, internal rebellion especially hurts the world’s poorest countries. What motivates civil wars? Greed or grievance? Collier and Hoeffler compare two contrasting motivations for rebellion: greed and grievance. Most rebellions are ostensibly in pursuit of a cause, supported by a narrative of grievance. But since grievance assuagement through rebellion is a public good that a government will not supply, economists predict such rebellions would be rare. Empirically, many rebellions appear to be linked to the capture of resources (such as diamonds in Angola and Sierra Leone, drugs in Colombia, and timber in Cambodia). Collier and Hoeffler set up a simple rational choice model of greed-rebellion and contrast its predictions with those of a simple grievance model. Some countries return to conflict repeatedly. Are they conflict-prone or is there a feedback effect whereby conflict generates grievance, which in turn generates further conflict? The authors show why such a feedback effect might be present in both greed-motivated and grievance rebellions. The authors’ results contrast with conventional beliefs about the causes of conflict. A stylized version of conventional beliefs would be that grievance begets conflict, which begets grievance, which begets further conflict. With such a model, the only point at which to intervene is to reduce the level of objective grievance. Collier and Hoeffler’s model suggests that what actually happens is that opportunities for predation (controlling primary commodity exports) cause conflict and the grievances this generates induce dias-poras to finance further conflict. The point of policy intervention here is to reduce the absolute and relative attraction of primary commodity predation and to reduce the ability of diasporas to fund rebel movements. This paper – a product of the Development Research Group – is part of a larger effort in the group to study civil war and criminal violence

Paradise Lost: The Costs of State Failure in the Pacific

Globally, state failure is hugely costly, in terms of lost output and the high costs imposed by failing states on their neighbours. This paper examines the cost of failing states in the Pacific. The Pacific region differs from other regions: since its countries are islands the neighbourhood spillovers that normally generate these costs do not apply. The cost of state failure for an island is much lower than for other states, but state failure is more costly to the state itself, as opposed to its neighbours, if the state is an island. This may be due to the greater openness of islands, implying greater flight of financial and human capital. Because neighbours are not directly affected by state failure in the Pacific, any possible interventions should be centred on the humanitarian concern.

Aid, Policy, and Growth in Post-Conflict Societies

Countries emerging from civil war attract both aid and policy advice. This paper provides the first systematic empirical analysis of aid and policy reform in the post-conflict growth process. It is based on a comprehensive data set of large civil wars and covers 27 countries that were in their first decade of post-conflict economic recovery during the 1990s. The authors first investigate whether the absorptive capacity for aid is systematically different in post-conflict countries. They find that during the first three post-conflict years, absorptive capacity is no greater than normal, but that in the rest of the first decade it is approximately double its normal level. So ideally, aid should phase in during the decade. Historically, aid has not, on average, been higher in post-conflict societies, and it has tended to taper out over the course of the decade. The authors then investigate whether the contribution of policy to growth is systematically different in post-conflict countries, and in particular, whether particular components of policy are differentially important. For this they use the World Bank policy rating database. The authors find that growth is more sensitive to policy in post-conflict societies. Comparing the efficacy of different policies, they find that social policies are differentially important relative to macroeconomic policies. However, historically, this does not appear to have been how policy reform has been prioritized in post-conflict societies.