Fertile Ground for Conflict

Nicolas Berman (AMSE)
Mathieu Couttenier (University of Geneva)
Raphael Soubeyran (INRA-LAMETA)

Abstract : We study how variations in land fertility affect civil conflicts. We first present a model with heterogeneous land in which variations in input prices (fertilizers) affect appropriable rents and the opportunity costs of fighting. The theory predicts that spikes in input prices increase the likelihood of conflicts, and that this effect is magnified when soil fertility is heterogeneous. We test these predictions using data on conflict events covering all Sub-Saharan African countries at a spatial resolution of 0.5° x 0.5° over the period 1997-2014. We combine information on soil characteristics and worldwide variations in fertilizer prices to identify local changes in input prices. We find that exogenous variations in fertilizer prices trigger more conflicts, especially in cells where soil quality is more heterogeneous. Our paper therefore suggests that land fertility is a signicant determinant of violence.

Stir Well the Melting Pot: Persistence of Inter-ethnic Cultural Divide in Estonia

Piret Ehin (Tartu University )
Greg Nizhnikau (Finnish Institute of International Affairs )
Leonid Polishchuk (Higher School of Economics and Uppsala University )
Alexander Rubin (Higher School of Economics )

Abstract : We explore drivers and impediments to inter-ethnic cultural convergence in Estonia, where nearly 30% of population are native Russian speakers, mostly ethnic Russians. We present evidence drawn from six consecutive rounds of the European Social Survey covering the period from 2004 through 2014. We demonstrate that ethnicity persists as a significant factor of values and attitudes, especially with regard to the perception of the Estonian, society, placement on the autonomy to paternalism scale, and attitudes to state and political institutions, and that the passage of time dose not weaken the salience of ethnicity as a factor of culture. Treating Soviet-time settlement of ethnic Russians in Estonia as a "natural experiment", we show that day-to-day contact of ethnic Russians with ethnic Estonians has a consistently strong impact on the ethnic gap, noticeably reducing the full marginal effect of ethnicity on values and attitudes.

Insecurity, Social Capital and Collective Action

Clemente Forero-Pineda (Universidad de los Andes)
Luz Elena Orozco-Collazos (Universidad de los Andes)
Adriana Valenzuela (Universidad de los Andes)

Abstract : Empirical and theoretical studies have illustrated the close relationship there is between social capital and the formation of collective action. (i. e. Adger, 2003; Ostrom, Gardner and Walker, 1994; Pinto-Ramos, 2006), and have contributed to build a behavioral theory of collective action. Local conditions as well as individual differences affect this relationship (Ostrom, 1994). We extend this view by exploring whether in violent contexts, personal, communal and economic insecurities intervene in the formation of social capital and in developing the ability of communities to solve collective action problems. In the paper we present research carried out in 56 municipalities in 2015, in Colombian regions where the rates of violence have been consistently higher than average in the preceding decade. The effects of three components of social capital (relational, trust and reciprocity, and institutional) on collective action were analyzed. We chose to analyze these three components separately because different studies have questioned the empirical and theoretical validity of conflating them (Glaeser, 1999; Pinto-Ramos, 2006). We find that insecurity consistently affects collective action. There is a very clear negative relationship between personal, communal and economic insecurity and collective action. We also find that the components of social capital have distinct effects on collective action. While we find that there is no significant relationship between relational capital and collective action, both trust and institutional capital have a highly significant positive effect on collective action.