Resource Curse in Reverse: How Civil Wars Influence Natural Resource Production

Sara Mc Laughlin Mitchell, Cameron G. Thies

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

30 Scopus citations


Conflict scholars have argued that natural resources, such as oil, diamonds, and gemstones, may increase the chances for civil wars because rebels can sustain their organizations by looting resources and because certain types of resources, such as oil, create weaker state governments that are less capable of putting down insurgencies. Natural resources like oil also raise the value of capturing the state through war. However, empirical studies typically treat natural resources as exogenous variables, failing to consider the possibility that war alters the production levels of various natural resources. This endogenous relationship may help to explain the inconsistent empirical results linking natural resources and civil war onset. This article examines the two-way relationship between natural resources and civil war, focusing on oil, diamonds, and fisheries. The empirical findings suggest that most of the relationships run in the direction from war to resources, with no significant effects of resources on the onset of civil war. States with civil wars experience lower oil and diamond production, while marine fisheries production recovers in civil war-torn states.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)218-242
Number of pages25
JournalInternational Interactions
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 2012
Externally publishedYes


  • civil war
  • diamonds
  • fisheries
  • oil
  • resource curse

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Political Science and International Relations


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