Environmental Shocks, Foreign Aid, and Civil War

Based on a series of analyses of longitudinal data of low- and middle-income countries between 1971 and 2011, this study demonstrates that the impact of natural disasters on the risk of civil war in low- and middle-income countries is conditional upon the amount of foreign aid provided to those countries. I argue that foreign aid can moderate the risk of civil war in disaster-affected countries by narrowing the window of opportunity for rebels and the grievances they can capitalize upon, mostly through its political and economic effects. Foreign aid can address victims’ immediate needs and demands, promote economic activity through recovery efforts, and help governments to maintain social stability. This study is the first attempt to incorporate the role of foreign aid into the analysis of natural disasters and civil war.