Tom Vogl points us to a recent article of the NBER Reporter where Ted Miguel thoughtfully lays out a brief review of links between weather/climate changes, economic impacts and civil conflict. He argues that the broader issue of civil conflict represents an important and under-studied topic in economic development:
Civil war is clearly central in the study of international economic development, yet leading development economists have often overlooked it, and some undergraduate textbooks do not even mention the issue. Over the past decade, however, many economists and other social scientists have worked to better understand the causes and the economic legacies of internal warfare, often in collaboration with political scientists and other scholars. The main goal of this research summary is to describe some of this progress, with a particular focus on the role of economic shocks, weather, and climate in driving the patterns laid out above...and puts forward a few suggestions
While deriving policy implications is not the main goal of this summary, the literature does have certain implications. For example, the empirical relationship between violence and low and falling incomes suggests that implementing insurance schemes to protect poor societies from negative income shocks might reduce future rounds of bloodshed. One possibility is expanded regional drought insurance for farmers. Another is foreign aid contingent on objective conflict risk indicators (for example, weather or commodity price shocks, or a coming El Nino year) – what I have elsewhere called “rapid conflict prevention support” – to bolster local economic conditions when the risk of particularly political violence is high.
I particularly appreciated Ted pointing me towards this recent article in ReStat:
Economic determinants of land invasions
F. Daniel Hidalgo, Suresh Naidu, Simeon Nichter, and Neal Richardson
Abstract: This study estimates the effect of economic conditions on redistributive conﬂict. We examine land invasions in Brazil using a panel data set with over 50,000 municipality-year observations. Adverse economic shocks, instrumented by rainfall, cause the rural poor to invade and occupy large landholdings. This effect exhibits substantial heterogeneity by land inequality and land tenure systems, but not by other observable variables. In highly unequal municipalities, negative income shocks cause twice as many land invasions as in municipalities with average land inequality. Cross-sectional estimates using ﬁne within-region variation also suggest the importance of land inequality in explaining redistributive conﬂict.