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Resource discovery and conflict in Africa: what do the data show?

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posted on 2023-06-09, 03:04 authored by Rabah Arezki, Sambit BhattacharyyaSambit Bhattacharyya, Nemera Gebeyehu Mamo
The empirical relationship between natural resources and con?ict in Africa is not very well understood. Using a novel geocoded dataset on resource discovery and con?ict we are able to construct a quasi-natural experiment to explore the causal e?ect of (giant and major) oil and mineral discoveries on con?ict in Africa at the grid level corresponding to a spatial resolution of 0.5 x 0.5 degree covering the period 1946 to 2008. Contrary to conventional wisdom, we ?nd no evidence of natural resources triggering con?ict in Africa after controlling for grid-speci?c ?xed factors and time varying common shocks. Resource discovery appears to have improved local income measured by nightlights which could be reducing the con?ict likelihood. We observe little or no heterogeneity in the relationship across resource type, size of discovery, pre and post conclusion of the cold war, and institutional quality. The relationship remains unchanged at the regional and national levels.


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Centre for the Study of African Economies, University of Oxford



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Oxford, UK

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Centre for the Study of African Economies, University of Oxford

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