Economists on Conflict
(Authors: Damir Esenaliev and Susan Steiner) Economic disparities between ethnic groups are often seen as a driver of ethnic conflict. Understanding the extent of these disparities, and their sources, can help inform policies that aim to avoid further conflict. However, our research on economic disparities between Kyrgyz and Uzbek households in southern Kyrgyzstan suggests that the reality is far more complex.
(Author: J. Paul Dunne) Things have been changing on the east coast of Africa. The number of maritime pirate attacks has been massively reduced and commentators are talking about ‘order at sea’ in the region. This has led to clear benefits for maritime economies in the area, and these benefits are likely to be spread even further. In this context, improved order at sea could also be important for landlocked countries. As these countries tend to be somewhat poorer than their maritime neighbours, this is good news indeed.
(Author: Michael Brzoska) Germany is, once again, debating the future of its arms industry. While not very large—with around 90 000 employees, or less than two per cent of total employment in German industry—it has long had a privileged status. In particular, German procurement authorities continue to give preferential treatment to German production. This political favoritism has also extended to arms exports. However, these two pillars of state support for arms production in Germany now appear to be crumbling.
(Authors: Jurgen Brauer, Daniel Montolia and Elisa Trujillo) Virtually every major conflict in the world today is underpinned by the use of the gun. It is true that, in Rwanda in 1994, machetes were an important instrument of violence, and in Libya and Syria today major conventional weapon systems are used. In Nigeria, Boko Haram creates headlines with its frequent use of market bombings. Elsewhere, suicide bombings and public beheadings are in vogue. However, the firearm is also present in all of these conflicts. Despite this fact, relatively little is known about the firearm industry itself.
(Author: Neil Ferguson) I’m going to let you in on a little secret. My life as an economist would be much easier if I had the ability to observe an infinite number of parallel universes. Think about it: if I want to understand how X affects Y—say, the impact of a peacebuilding programme on the perceptions of those who received the ‘treatment’—all I need to do is to find a universe identical to our own in every other way, and compare the outcomes in our universe to the outcomes in theirs. Unfortunately, such technologies are, as yet, beyond the reach of economists. We therefore need to be more creative in our research methodologies, if not in our flights of imagination.