Asymmetric Effects of Positive and Negative Commodity Price Shocks During Civil Wars

Publication Title

Defence and Peace Economics

Document Type


Department or Program


Publication Date



commodity prices, Commodity terms of trade, conflict, institutions, resource curse


Economic shocks, including shocks to commodity export prices, have often been related to civil conflict. However, the literature usually assumes that commodity prices have linear effects. In this paper, we hypothesize that negative and positive commodity export price shocks can have asymmetric effects: while negative shocks are likely to increase conflict, positive shocks can have a smaller conflict-reducing effect or even increase conflict. We test this hypothesis in a dataset for battle deaths during ongoing civil wars. Consistent with the hypothesis, negative price shocks increase battle deaths, but positive price shocks also have a positive effect. The positive effect is concentrated and becomes significant in countries with weak pre-conflict institutions that experience positive price shocks to fossil fuels. We conclude that a combination of institutional reforms, economic diversification, and price stabilization might reduce battle deaths in fuel-dependent countries with weak institutions.

This document is currently not available here.