Drought and Civil War In Sub-Saharan Africa*


  • The authors wish to particularly thank the Editor, Jörn-Steffen Pischke, for his invaluable comments and suggestions. The authors are also much indebted to the three anonymous referees for their very constructive and helpful comments and suggestions. We also benefited from invaluable comments by Nicolas Berman, Paola Conconi, Matthieu Crozet, James Fearon, David Laitin, Thierry Mayer, Edward Miguel, Nicolas Quérou, Elodie Rouvière, Julie Subervie, Mathias Thoenig, Thierry Verdier and participants in seminars at Stanford, Lausanne, DIAL and Montpellier. We thank Annie Hoffstetter for technical assistance. Mathieu Couttenier would like to thank Sciences Po. Paris and the Stanford Political Science Department for their welcome. He also acknowledges financial support from the European Research Council (ERC Starting Grant GRIEVANCES-313327). Raphael Soubeyran extends his thanks for financial support to the ‘RISECO’ ANR project, ANR-08-JCJC-0074-01.


We explore the relationship between drought and civil war. We show that the link between rainfall, temperature and civil war found in the literature may be driven by aggregate shocks (such as global climate) that were not accounted for. A standard differences-in-differences specification relying only on within country variation reveals a much weaker and insignificant link between weather variables and civil war. To increase statistical power, we propose a country-specific measure of drought that describes social exposure to water stress in a more efficient way than rainfall and temperature. We continue to find a weak positive link between drought and civil war.