Renewable Natural Resource Shocks and Conflict Intensity: Findings from India’s Ongoing Maoist Insurgency

February 2015
Shanker Satyanath, Kishore Gawande, Devesh Kapur
in Journal of Conflict Resolution, p.1-33

An interesting stream of the civil conflict literature has identified an important subset of civil conflicts with disastrous consequences, that is, those that emerge as a consequence of shocks to renewable natural resources like land and water. This literature is, however, reliant on qualitative case studies when claiming a causal relationship leading from renewable resource shocks to conflict. In this article, we seek to advance the literature by drawing out the implications of a well-known formal model of the renewable resources–conflict relationship and then conducting rigorous statistical tests of its implications in the case of a serious ongoing civil conflict in India. We find that a one standard deviation decrease in our measure of renewable resources increases killings by nearly 60 percent over the long run.