The Effect of Farmer-Pastoralist Violence on Income: New Survey Evidence from Nigeria’s Middle Belt States

Topher L. McDougal, Talia Hagerty, Lisa Inks, Claire-Lorentz Ugo-Ike, Caitriona Dowd, Stone Conroy, Daniel Ogabiela


This study estimates the relationship between violent conflict and household income in four states of Nigeria’s Middle Belt region (Benue, Kaduna, Nasarawa, and Plateau) where farmers and pastoralists routinely clash over access to farmland, grazing areas, stock routes, and water points for animals and households. Although relatively low in intensity, this form of violence is widespread, persistent, and arguably increasing in its incidence. We obtained data on income and household-level violence exposure from an original household survey administered in September 2014. Employing a negative binomial instrumental variables model, we find an inverse relation between violence and household incomes. Incomes could be increased by between 64 to 210 percent of current levels if violence related to farmer-pastoralist conflict in the four study states were reduced to near-zero. Cumulatively, we find that forgone income represents 10.2 percent of the combined official state domestic product in the study area. This is high when compared to the costs of conflict measured in other studies, even as our study takes account only of microeconomic costs. After incorporating an estimate of the size of the informal economy, the microeconomic cost of farmer-pastoralist conflict to the total economy is approximately 2.9 percent. [JEL codes: C36, D74, J17]


Farmer-pastoralist violence; cost of conflict; survey; instrumental variables; negative binomial model

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