Title

Let Them Eat Cake: Food Prices, Domestic Policy and Social Unrest

Document Type

Article

Publication Date

1-1-2015

Department

Political Science, International Development, and International Affairs

School

Social Science and Global Studies

Abstract

Recent price spikes in the international commodity markets have been blamed for numerous riots, protests and other forms of civil unrest. While these effects are widespread, they are not universal. In this article we investigate the relationship between food prices and social unrest. More specifically, we are concerned with the factors that make civil conflict more or less likely when food prices are elevated. We borrow from the extant literature on civil conflict as well as agriculture economics in order to analyze this phenomenon and help explain the variation among different countries. By merging these two research programs, we hope to make a contribution to each. We utilize a domestic-level measure of food prices rather than the world market price in order to more accurately represent national-level economic conditions. Our results show a positive and significant relationship between food prices and outbreak of social unrest and conflict across a wide range of coutries. Thus, we recommend the inclusion of a food price variable into any future studies of civil conflict. More importantly, we have helped to identify the potential factors that might insulate countries from food-oriented conflict. Given the events of the past year, this issue is paramount for scholars and world leaders alike.

Publication Title

Conflict Management and Peace Science

Volume

32

Issue

3

First Page

309

Last Page

326

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