Epidemics and Conflict: Evidence from the Ebola Outbreak in Western Africa

47 Pages Posted: 23 Mar 2020 Last revised: 19 Dec 2020

See all articles by Ada González-Torres

Ada González-Torres

Ben-Gurion University of the Negev

Elena Esposito

University of Lausanne

Date Written: May 31, 2016

Abstract

Epidemics are on the rise, yet the social disruption they engender is not well understood. This paper provides causal evidence of the impact of a rapidly spreading epidemic on civil violence and sheds light on its drivers. New data at high spatial and temporal resolution of the Ebola outbreak in Western Africa reveal that epidemics spark civil violence, especially in places with low trust in state institutions. Contrary to common narratives, opening new health centers lowers violence and only containment measures perceived as coercive trigger violence. The effects of the epidemic on social unrest persist several years after the outbreak ended.

Keywords: conflict, violence, health, epidemics, institutions, trust, public goods, Africa

JEL Classification: C23, D74, H41, I15, N37, O11, O12, O19, P16

Suggested Citation

González-Torres, Ada and Esposito, Elena, Epidemics and Conflict: Evidence from the Ebola Outbreak in Western Africa (May 31, 2016). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3544606 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3544606

Ada González-Torres (Contact Author)

Ben-Gurion University of the Negev ( email )

1 Ben-Gurion Blvd
Beer-Sheba 84105, 84105
Israel

HOME PAGE: http://adagonzaleztorres.weebly.com/

Elena Esposito

University of Lausanne ( email )

Quartier Chambronne
Lausanne, Vaud CH-1015
Switzerland

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