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Title: Essays in the economics of violence
Author: Christian, Cornelius
ISNI:       0000 0004 6346 5091
Awarding Body: University of Oxford
Current Institution: University of Oxford
Date of Award: 2015
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In this thesis, I analyse the impact of economic shocks on violence, and the mechanisms underlying them. I also investigate the long-term effects of violence on economic outcomes. In my first chapter, I introduce this thesis, and broadly outline its aims and contributions. In my second chapter, I examine lynchings of African Americans in the US South from 1882 to 1930, and show that cotton price shocks predict lynchings. Lynchings also predict more black out-migration from 1920 to 1930, and higher state-level wages. Using a simple model, I show that this is consistent with lynchings having labour market effects that benefitted whites: lynchings cause blacks to migrate away, lowering labour supply and increasing wages for white labourers. I then turn to the long-term effects of lynchings. I show that Mississippi counties with more violence during a 1964 Civil Rights campaign also had more lynchings during the earlier period. Finally, lynchings persist in labour market outcomes: present-day results show that lynchings predict higher black-white worker, family, and household income gaps. In my third chapter, I turn to FrenchWest Africa, a co-authored work with James Fenske. We show that rainfall, temperature, and commodity price shocks predict unrest in colonial French West Africa between 1906 and 1956. We use a simple model of taxation and anti-tax resistance to explain these results. In the colonial period, the response of unrest to economic shocks was strongest in more remote areas and those lacking a history of pre-colonial states. In modern data spanning 1997 to 2011, the effect of economic shocks on unrest is weaker. Past patterns of heterogeneity are no longer present. The response of unrest to economic shocks, then, differs across institutional contexts within a single location. In my fourth and last chapter, I find that favourable temperatures and favourable economic conditions predict more witchcraft trials in Early Modern Scotland (1563-1727), a largely agricultural economy. During this time, witchcraft was a secular crime, and it was incumbent on local elites to commit resources to trying witches. Consistent with this, I find that positive price shocks to export-heavy, taxable goods like herring and wool predict more witch trials, while price shocks to Scotland's main subsistence commodity, oats, do not.
Supervisor: Fenske, James ; Collier, Paul Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Violence--Economic aspects ; Prices ; Taxation