Sunday, February 26, 2012

Food Aid Causes Civil War

Aiding Conflict: The Impact of U.S. Food Aid on Civil War

Nathan Nunn & Nancy Qian, NBER Working Paper, January 2012

Abstract: This paper examines the effect of U.S. food aid on conflict in recipient countries. To establish a causal relationship, we exploit time variation in food aid caused by fluctuations in U.S. wheat production together with cross-sectional variation in a country's tendency to receive any food aid from the United States. Our estimates show that an increase in U.S. food aid
increases the incidence, onset and duration of civil conflicts in recipient countries. Our results suggest that the effects are larger for smaller scale civil conflicts. No effect is found on interstate warfare.

I've had so many conversations with sensitive people where their entire argument is, "People are hurting. We should DO something.!"

The fact is that most things we can "do" make things worse. But that's okay. Because all that matters is that American leftists get to feel good about themselves, because they DID something.

Once you understand this, it makes a lot of other opinions of leftists easier to understand. For example, why not have market systems in developing countries, since those would actually have good consequences?

Because the left doesn't care at all about good consequences. "Open up markets" (including in the US, which would really help developing nations, like if we opened the US market to Caribbean sugar growers)? No, that's not a feel good, good intentions policy. All it would do is have really good consequences. And how does that help Albie Volvo, with his Chardonnay and NPR tote, feel better about himself? Better to change out some more light bulbs for CFs, and give food aid to the needy. Sure, it will start civil wars, but why would Albie Volvo care? There's no war in his neighborhood.

(Nod to Kevin Lewis, for the article, certainly not the interpretation)


Norman said...

As Robin Hanson would say, Politics isn't about Policy. Or in this case, Foreign Aid isn't about Help.

JD Cross said...

Nicely done. Gems like this are why I'm on this blog every day.

Gerardo said...

So what they are saying is that "weather conditions in
U.S. wheat-producing regions" are an instrument for peace?

Wait, no, an instrument for wheat production.

Ungated version:


pkd said...

Yes, but conservatives are often guilty of similar nonsense. Their reactions to what they see as social problems (immigration, nonalcoholic substance abuse) is to declare them illegal even if it's a far from effective solution.

Tom said...

pkd is right. That's why I am libertarian, not conservative nor liberal.