October 17, 2010

Climate and Civil War: Is the Relationship Robust?

by Marshall Burke, John Dykema, David Lobell, Edward Miguel and Shanker Satyanath

- A recent paper by Burke et al. (henceforth "we") finds a strong historical relationship between warmer- than-average temperatures and the incidence of civil war in Africa (Burke et al. 2009). These findings have recently been challenged by Buhaug (2010) who finds fault with how we controlled for other potential explanatory variables, how we coded civil wars, and with our choice of historical time period and climate dataset. We demonstrate that Buhaug’s proposed method of controlling for confounding variables has serious econometric shortcomings and show that our original findings are robust to the use of different climate data and to alternate codings of major war.

Burke, M., J. Dykema, D. Lobell, E. Miguel and S. Satyanath (2010). "Climate and Civil War: Is the Relationship Robust?" NBER Working Paper No. 16440, Oct 2010.