Grievance, Commodity Prices and Rainfall: A Village-level Analysis of Rebel Recruitment in Burundi

MICROCON Research Working Paper 11

22 Pages Posted: 28 Jun 2009 Last revised: 23 May 2010

See all articles by Eleonora E. Nillesen

Eleonora E. Nillesen

United Nations University (UNU-MERIT); Maastricht University

Philip Verwimp

Université Libre de Bruxelles (ULB) - Solvay Brussels School of Economics and Management; Université Libre de Bruxelles (ULB) - European Center for Advanced Research in Economics and Statistics (ECARES)

Date Written: May 24, 2009

Abstract

Recent literature in the political economy of civil war has pointed to the importance of (changes) in the economic environment for the understanding of conflict dynamics. Three channels, negative income shocks, the presence of exportable commodities and indiscriminate violence inflicted on one’s community are considered as drivers of conflict. This paper studies these channels with a new fifteen year panel of community level data on Burundi whose coffee sector is intimately intertwined with the civil war. We find that indiscriminate violence inflicted at the start of the civil war (1993) continued to affect recruitment throughout the entire civil war. We also find that decreases in the producer price of coffee increases recruitment. Aiming to distinguish the resentment aspect from the opportunity aspect in low producer prices, we perform robustness tests with different specifications and with year-province rainfall shocks affecting overall agricultural income, not just coffee. Results indicate that it is the opportunity cost mechanism that drives increased recruitment.

Keywords: civil war, recruitment, indiscriminate violence, coffee, rainfall

JEL Classification: C23, N37, N47

Suggested Citation

Nillesen, Eleonora E. and Verwimp, Philip, Grievance, Commodity Prices and Rainfall: A Village-level Analysis of Rebel Recruitment in Burundi (May 24, 2009). MICROCON Research Working Paper 11, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1425023 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.1425023

Eleonora E. Nillesen (Contact Author)

United Nations University (UNU-MERIT) ( email )

Maastricht
Netherlands

Maastricht University

P.O. Box 616
Maastricht, 6200MD
Netherlands

Philip Verwimp

Université Libre de Bruxelles (ULB) - Solvay Brussels School of Economics and Management ( email )

19 Av Franklin Roosevelt
1050
Brussels
Belgium

Université Libre de Bruxelles (ULB) - European Center for Advanced Research in Economics and Statistics (ECARES) ( email )

Ave. Franklin D Roosevelt, 50 - C.P. 114
Brussels, B-1050
Belgium

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