DEVESH KAPUR , KISHORE GAWANDE and SHANKER SATYANATH
Is there a causal relationship between shocks to renewable natural resources, such as agricultural and forest lands, and the intensity of conflict? In this paper we conduct a rigorous econometric analysis of a civil conflict that the Indian Prime Minister has called the single biggest internal security challenge ever faced by his country, the so called Maoist conflict. We focus on over- time within-district variation in the intensity of conflict in the states where this conflict is primarily located. Using a novel dataset of killings we find that
adverse renewable resource shocks have a robust, significant association with the intensity of conflict. A one standard deviation decrease in our measure of renewable resources increases killings by 12.5% contemporaneously, 9.7% after a year, and 42.2% after two years. Our instrumental variables strategy allows us to interpret these findings in a causal manner. The authors would like to especially thank Adnan Farooqui and Sucharita Sengupta who spent several years putting together the Maoist database with remarkable perseverance and fortitude. We are also grateful to Babu Dasri for accessing news sources in Andhra Pradesh and to Zaheeb in Bihar and Jharkhand. Prof. Ajay Dandekar provided vital insights into the workings of the movement. Thanks also to Oeindrila Dube, Michael Aklin, Livio di Lonardo, and seminar participants at the University of Pennsylvania, Stanford University, University of Wisconsin, Madison, and the University of California, Berkeley for their useful comments. Rohit Chandra and Mike Polansky provided research assistance of the highest quality.