Natural resources and civil conflict: An overview of controversies, consensus, and channels

Anouk S. Rigterink


This article reviews the literature on the relationship between natural resource abundance and civil conflict, focusing on cross-country, quantitative research. It concludes that results on natural resources (as a single category) as a cause of conflict onset are quite unstable. A more robust relationship is found looking at specific resources, notably oil and diamonds. Resource abundance potentially increases conflict risk by providing revenue to warring parties, decreasing the cost of rebellion, increasing the 'value' of winning the government or decreasing government quality and economic growth. However, there is little consensus on which (combination of) mechanism(s) is most important, even though this is the most interesting question for policy makers.

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