earthquakes and civil war

A paper on earthquakes and civil war.

Comments:the effects of shocks on conflict are generally ambiguous. It’s natural to think about the effects contingent on two things: the shocks and the status quo institutions. On the shocks side, this paper stresses the strength of earthquakes; it does not talk much about institutions but focuses on whether a society is  poor or rich. In fact it attempts to argue against the interaction of shocks and institutions, which is a bit surprising to me.

The intuition is that moderate earthquakes lower the opportunity costs of potential rebels and hence the risk of civil increases with more moderate earthquakes, however, very strong earthquakes decrease the expected gains. The economic prosperity of a society also plays a role in the opportunity costs perspective.

An alternative explanation would be that the state is weakened in post-disaster situations that some groups exploit this fact. Moderate earthquakes lead to more civil wars. But very strong earthquakes weakens the state (say the ability to tax) so much that the expected gains are not tempting.