Civil War


Places To Hide: Terrain, Ethnicity, and Civil Conflict

w. David B. Carter, Andrew C. Shaver

Terrain is central to understanding why some countries have contentious ethnic divisions, while others do not. We argue that access to variable rugged terrain facilitated the development and survival of more distinct ethnic groups, even in the face of government repression. The persistence of greater ethnic diversity in highly variable rugged areas as well as the tendency for these ethnic groups to be politically excluded is also associated with civil war. Specifically, ethnicity mediates some of the effect that terrain has on civil war, a point overlooked by most of the literature. Using province-level geo-coded data on civil war, terrain and both the distribution and political status of ethnic groups, we demonstrate that rugged variable terrain directly and indirectly affects the incidence of civil war. A substantively important proportion of terrain’s effects on civil conflict are transmitted indirectly through the distribution and exclusion of politically relevant ethnic groups.


Latest draft here.


Commodity Price Shocks and Civil War: A New Approach

Current literature theorizes a relationship between economic shocks and internal conflict, yet has produced contradictory findings. I propose a new theoretical and empirical approach for studying commodity price shocks and find that the effects of price shocks on civil war are heterogeneous and substantial.