Greed and Grievance in Civil War

Tuesday 24 January 2023

Collier, Paul, and Anke Hoeffler. Oxford Economic Papers 56, no. 4 (2004): 563–95.

This article investigates the causes of civil war by analysing 79 civil wars which took place between 1966 and 1999. The authors conclude that the primary causes of civil war are greed and grievance. In their analysis, the authors find that the possibility likelihood of the outbreak of wars, and especially civil wars, is highly connected with dependant on economic factors, and by further investigating the source of these economic motivations, the authors find that they can be divided into two categories: greed and grievance. The former term refers to opportunism stemming from economic motives, often relating to resource extraction, or political motives. The latter term refers to the idea that people tend to rebel because of economic, political and social inequality. The authors also discuss the relationship between economic extraction and the outbreak of civil wars by considering the examples of the extraction of diamonds in West Africa, wood in Cambodia, and cocaine in Columbia. In discussing grievance, the authors focus on four different types: ethnic or religious hatred, political repression, political exclusion, and economic inequality. They employ quantitative methods to investigate the relationship between these types of grievance and the possibility liklihood of the outbreak of civil wars, and reach the conclusion that inequality plays an important part in causing civil wars.

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