Publication: Oil and Civil Conflict : Can Public Spending Have a Mitigation Effect?

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Singh, Raju Jan
Bodea, Cristina
Higashijima, Masaaki
In this paper, the conditions under which the spending patterns of oil resources may mitigate the risk of violent domestic conflict are studied. Some recent research suggests that more government spending either in general or specifically in welfare and military may reduce the risk of civil conflict onset (Hegre and Sambanis, 2006; Basedau and Lay, 2009; Fjelde and de Soysa, 2009; Taydas and Peksen, 2012). While oil wealth has begun to be considered in the study of civil conflict as an important source of revenue for governments, there has not been a systematic analysis of whether oil-rich countries can increase public spending or alter the particular allocation of such spending to social sectors or the military as a way to mitigate the risk of conflict. We use time-series cross section data (148 countries, 1960-2009) to test the hypothesis that oil has a conditional effect on civil conflict depending on the size of government expenditure and the allocation of government spending. Our dependent variable is the onset of small and large civil conflict (Gleditch et al., 2002). The empirical estimations show that small and large conflicts alike are less likely when large parts of oil resources are dedicated to military spending. Increased spending in education, health or social security is associated with lower risk of small-scale conflict, irrespective of the level of oil revenue. On the other hand, higher levels of general government expenditure do not appear to have any robust mitigating effects. The paper proceeds as follows: Section II reviews work on natural resources and conflict; Section III discusses the literature on public spending and conflict; Section IV presents our approach, derives testable hypotheses, and presents the data; Section V describes the results; and Section VI concludes.
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Singh, Raju Jan; Bodea, Cristina; Higashijima, Masaaki. 2014. Oil and Civil Conflict : Can Public Spending Have a Mitigation Effect?. © World Bank, Washington, DC. License: CC BY 3.0 IGO.
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