Civil strife and economic and social policies

Joseph E. Stiglitz


The article compares civil strife in the public arena to labor strikes in the private arena. Both are predicated on incomplete information (both sides believing they can "win," when one - and possibly both - must "lose"). Reasons for conflict, especially in Africa, include the rent-based nature of the economies, the "nothing-much-to-lose" position of many of its participants, the "one-shot" game-theoretic nature of many of its conflicts, and the lack of "voice" of most of its people. The article then draws out six implications for those interested in conflict management and conflict mitigation and comments, for example, on path-dependent irreversibilities of initial policydecisions.

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