The effect of crude oil price changes on civil conflict intensity in rentier states

Chase Englund, Taylor Vincent, Connor Kopchick


While existing literature has considered the relationship between oil and conflict, most of the studies have failed to consider mechanisms that might mediate the effect of the fluctuating market price of oil on conflict. We theorize that the military capacity of the state is a key mediating mechanism for understanding the relationship between shifting oil market prices and conflict intensity. We argue that states which rely upon oil sales to fund a large portion of government spending will have a more difficult time maintaining conflict-reducing state capacity during times in which oil prices are below previously prevailing averages for extended lengths of time. Using country-year data in 67 conflict states from 1989–2019, we find that low average oil prices are associated with lower military spending which in turn is associated with higher rates of battle fatalities in existing civil conflicts.


Price shocks;Commodities; Military spending; State capacity

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