Here are abstracts and/or links to a variety of my working papers. Please email me to request a most-recent version.

Does oil hinder democracy? Haber and Menaldo (2011) present evidence of a weakly positive association between oil wealth and democracy, while Andersen and Ross (2014) argue that any oil blessing is confined to the pre-1980 period and that, since 1980, oil has been negatively associated with democracy. They argue this structural break is due to the wave of oil industry nationalizations and unprecedented high prices that characterized the 1970s and 1980s. I argue a more significant structural break in the oil-democracy relationship occurred at the end of the Cold War, when the United States and the Soviet Union reduced support for non-oil rich authoritarian regimes in the developing world. This facilitated post-Cold War democratization of resource-poor regimes. Oil-rich regimes, however, were able to stave off post-Cold War pressures to democratize. Based on re-analyses of Haber and Menaldo and Andersen and Ross, I find the “oil curse” accelerates in the post-Cold War era and is 87% to 180% larger than previously estimated. The results indicate the oil curse is a function not just of international market conditions but geopolitical dynamics as well.

It is widely acknowledged that sociopolitical conflict and natural resource exploitation are closely related. However, the science needed to anticipate and defuse social-ecological flashpoints is in its infancy. Civil conflict is the most prevalent form of armed conflict in the world today, but this significant driver of food and income security has been largely missing from ecological models and fishery management tools. This paper presents a conceptual model for understanding fisheries and conflict as manifestations of a coupled natural and human system, encompassing interactions between the social and ecological subsystems as characterized by feedbacks that are structured by asymmetric spatial scales, nonlinearities, and time lags. Through a case study of the Ugandan capture fishery in Lake Victoria, we find evidence that the effects of conflict on fish catch are scale dependent (a function of distance from conflict). Violence in northern Uganda is correlated with a significant increase in fish catch in the Ugandan portion of the lake. Exploration and validation of this type of conceptual model could provide regional resource managers with tools to predict, and therefore mitigate, the effects of conflict on valuable natural resources and vice versa. 

We develop a theory in which incumbent government’s perceptions of nonviolent dissidents’ threat to the government are a function of mass mobilization potential, which is a much more significant determinant of threat for nonviolent movements than violent ones. Given the salience of ethnicity in African politics, ruling elites that depend on relatively small ethnic constituencies will likely see peaceful protests as more threatening, given that sizeable ethnic groups are excluded from power and can potentially be mobilized by the opposition. Governments that are based on broad ethnic representation, by contrast, are less likely to be threatened by mass mobilization and therefore more likely to tolerate peaceful dissent. Using the Social Conflict Analysis Database, we demonstrate that as the size of the ethnic ruling coalition grows, the use of deadly force against non-violent dissent declines. This finding is robust to a variety of operationalizations of the size of the government’s ethnic support coalition, the inclusion/exclusion of other measures of ethnic demographics/inequalities, and estimators that account for the hierarchical nature of the data.

Do natural disasters and adverse climatic conditions provide windows of opportunity for ending civil conflicts? Theoretically, the relationships are ambiguous: natural disasters may undercut the resources available to rebels and disasters may facilitate cooperation around humanitarian response, suggesting they provide ripe moments for conflict resolution, but they may also pull government resources away from counterinsurgency efforts and destroy the infrastructure necessary for the projection of state power, suggesting a prolonging effect. Similarly, adverse climatic conditions may fuel anti-government grievances and reduce the opportunity costs associated with participation in rebellion, suggesting drier conditions would be more conflict-promoting, but undermine the resource base available for fighting, suggesting wetter periods would be associated with conflict continuation. Based on a replication of Cunningham, Gleditsch and Salehyan’s (2009) dyadic model of conflict duration, we test jointly the effects of climatic shocks (Salehyan and Hendrix 2014) and discrete hydrometeorological/climatic (HMC) disasters (Eastin 2016) on conflict duration. Consistent with recent findings in the climate/natural disaster and conflict literature, we find that discrete HMC disasters, like floods and hurricanes, prolong conflict, while drier conditions, net of the effect of discrete disasters, shorten conflicts. Further quantitative tests and case study-based methodologies are proposed to parse these seemingly contradictory findings.