Do Natural Resources Really Cause Civil Conflict? Evidence from the New Global Resources Dataset

Journal Conflict Resolution 2022. 66(3): 387-412 (with Mike Findley, Joelean Hall, Andy Stravers & Jim Walsh).

Scholars have long examined the relationship between natural resources and conflict at the country level. More recently, researchers have turned to subnational analyses, using either individual countries or subnational data for a small number of resources in sub-Saharan Africa. We introduce a new sub-national dataset of 197 resources that adds many resource types, locations, and countries from Africa, the Middle East, Asia, Latin America, and Europe. To demonstrate the value of the new dataset, we examine how conflict incidence varies with the value of the collective set of resources in a given location using world prices. We then introduce new country-specific price data, which are more relevant for conflict dynamics. Since country-specific prices can be endogenous to conflict, we instrument country-specific prices using U.S. and world prices. We find that sub-national resource wealth is associated with higher levels of conflict using some specifications, though the results vary widely by data source and world region. Using an instrumental variables strategy lends the strongest support to this positive relationship, but only for African countries. Notably, across all of our models, we find that resources are negatively associated with conflict in Latin America, suggesting heterogeneity of effects worth future exploration. [Journal Article (Gated)] [Final Accepted Manuscript] [Online Appendix] [Global Resources Dataset]

The Global Resources Dataset