Conflict heterogeneity in Africa

15 Mar 2022

The economic development literature widely concurs that conflicts have adverse economic consequences that contribute to poverty, disinvestment and lower human capital leading to widespread inequality and lower economic growth. As such, understanding the nature of conflict has been an important focus for political leaders, policymakers and researchers alike. However, the existing literature does not typically distinguish between the effects of conflict determinants on conflicts by type of actor or aggressor (i.e. state, group and civilian-based). Using panel data analysis for 46 African countries from 1997 to 2017, and a comprehensive geo-referenced Armed Conflict Location and Event Data (ACLED) conflict dataset, we find evidence of variation in the determinants' effects on conflicts by actor types. For the full sample of countries, we find that military expenditure decreases civilian-based conflicts; globalisation increases both state- and civilian-based conflicts while state fragility increases group-based conflicts. On the other hand, income per capita increases all three types of conflicts. At regional level, we find variation in the effects of military expenditure and globalisation on state- and civilian-based conflicts. However, we find little variation in the effects of the determinants on group-based conflicts across the regions. The findings highlight the nuances in conflicts by actor types and their causes which need to be accounted for when formulating conflict resolution policies.