Climate change, rice crops, and violence

Climate change, rice crops, and violence
Evidence from Indonesia

From Journal of Peace Research

This article contributes to the positive analysis of the nexus between climate and violence by focusing on Indonesia for the period 1993–2003. This study follows a two-stage approach to analyze the link between climate change and violence in a country with a substantial history of social unrest and a disproportionate dependence on a single crop. Paddy rice is the staple crop in Indonesia and therefore its scarcity can be blamed for fueling violence. The research exploits the link between variations in minimum temperature and rice crops as suggested by natural science literature, controls for potential endogeneity. It adopted an IV approach to uncover the impact of variations in minimum temperature on the emergence of actual violence through the effect on food availability, captured by rice crops per capita.

Abstract

This article contributes to the literature on the nexus between climate change and violence by focusing on Indonesia over the period 1993–2003. Rice is the staple food in Indonesia and we investigate whether its scarcity can be blamed for fueling violence. Following insights from the natural science literature, which claims that increases in minimum temperature reduce rice yields, we maintain that increases in minimum temperature reduce food availability in many provinces, which in turn raises the emergence of actual violence. We adopt an instrumental variable approach and select the instruments taking into account the rice growing calendar. Results show that an increase of the minimum temperature during the core month of the rice growing season, that is, December, determines an increase in violence stimulated by the reduction in future rice production per capita. Results are robust across a number of different functional specifications and estimation methods. From a methodological point of view, we claim that the inconclusive results obtained in this literature may be caused by an overlook of the correct bundle crop/temperature. Studies concentrating on several countries with different crops and using variations of average temperature as a measure of climate change missed the biological mechanism behind the relationship between climate change and violence.

 

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Article details

Raul Caruso, Ilaria Petrarca, and Roberto Ricciuti
Climate change, rice crops, and violence: Evidence from Indonesia
Journal of Peace Research January 2016 53: 66-83, doi:10.1177/0022343315616061

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