Food riots?

Does food production have a measurable impact on political violence? Using India as a test case, a new article studies how fluctuations in rice and wheat production affect the severity of ongoing armed conflicts. Across different definitions of conflict, we find robust empirical evidence that loss of harvest is associated with an increase in conflict casualties during the subsequent year. This effect is stronger than that of economic shocks more generally, and we also find that it cannot be replicated with basic statistics of annual rainfall variations, thus highlighting the complex relationship between weather patterns, river and groundwater irrigation, farmer vulnerability, and agricultural production in India. This article, now available online, is part of a Political Geography special issue on climate and conflict.

Wischnath, Gerdis and Halvard Buhaug. 2014. Rice or riots: On food production and conflict severity across India. Political Geography 43: 6-15. doi: 10.1016/j.polgeo.2014.07.004 . [Open Access]

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