Monday, October 3, 2011

IRCPPS in the Links: Resource Conflicts

Chris Blattman highlights a selection from a new paper by Morelli and Rohner:

...historical examples suggest that natural resource location matters indeed in reality. When the presence of a local ethnic group coincides with large natural resource abundance concentrated in its region, this local ethnic group could be financially better off if it were independent and may under some conditions have incentives to start secessionist rebellion.

This corresponds for example to the separatist movement in the now independent Timor-Leste, and the recent turmoil in the oil-abundant regions of Nigeria. Also the rebellion of the Aceh Freedom Movement in Indonesia starting in 1976 and the armed fight of the Sudan People’s Liberation Army…

In all the cases above, an uneven natural resource distribution was amplifed by ethnic divisions. In contrast, if natural resources are absent or if natural resources (and political power) are evenly dispersed in a country, there are typically few incentives for conáict, even when there are ethnic divisions.

Similarly, when there are large amounts of natural resources available, but the society is ethnically homogeneous, conáict incentives are weak.