Population and Civil War
Medical and public health innovations in the 1940s quickly resulted in significant health improvements around the world. Countries with initially higher mortality from infectious diseases experienced greater increases in life expectancy, population, and - over the following 40 years - social conflict. This result is robust across alternative measures of conflict and is not driven by differential trends between countries with varying baseline characteristics. At least during this time period, a faster increase in population made social conflict more likely, probably because it increased competition for scarce resources in low income countries.
We thank seminar participants at MIT's development lunch, the University of Chicago, the XXII Annual Conference of the European Society for Population Economics at UCL, 2017 AEA Annual Meetings, Universidad de los Andes, and Universidad del Rosario. Ioannis Tokatlidis provided superb research assistance in the early stages of this project. The views expressed herein are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Bureau of Economic Research.