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Agricultural Windfalls and the Seasonality of Political Violence in Africa

New research released by AAEA members in AJAE

Last year has been the year of disrupted global commodity markets and the roller-coaster of cereal prices. Experts voiced concern about the elevated possibility of social unrest and civil conflict in low- and middle-income countries. New research released in the American Journal of Agricultural Economics  helps to address the questions of not only whether the surging commodity prices will result in an increased probability of social conflict, but also when and where is this more likely to happen.

In the recently released article “Agricultural Windfalls and the Seasonality of Political Violence in Africa,” David Ubilava, Justin Hastings, and Kadir Atalay from the University of Sydney study whether seasonality of agricultural income result in the seasonality of conflict.

Ubilava says, “A one-standard-deviation equivalent year-on-year inflation in the price of cereal grains increases the incidence of violence in crop-producing regions by about ten percent. The annualised measure from this study is comparable to those from other similar studies, but the key finding of our work is that much of this effect accrues during the first few months after the harvest--i.e., when the harvest has been just realised. This finding has several implications. First, by narrowing down the intra-year timing of political violence in the croplands of Africa, we contribute to the possibility of more effective planning of conflict management and resolution by local governments as well as international organizations. Second, by illustrating the linkage between rising international cereal prices and local conflict, we present the case for the benefits of price stabilization policies in times of global food crises. Third, by showcasing the seasonal nature of political violence, we offer insights into programs designed to motivate storing of agricultural commodities for later sale by farmers.”

If you are interested in setting up an interview, please contact Allison Ware in the AAEA Business Office.

ABOUT AAEA: Established in 1910, the Agricultural & Applied Economics Association (AAEA) is the leading professional association for agricultural and applied economists, with 2,500 members in more than 60 countries. Members of the AAEA work in academic or government institutions as well as in industry and not-for-profit organizations, and engage in a variety of research, teaching, and outreach activities in the areas of agriculture, the environment, food, health, and international development. The AAEA publishes three journals, the Journal of the Agricultural and Applied Economics Association (an open access journal), the American Journal of Agricultural Economics and Applied Economic Perspectives & Policy, as well as the online magazine Choices and the online open access publication series Applied Economics Teaching Resources. To learn more, visit

Contact: Allison Ware
Senior Communications & Membership Manager
(414) 918-3190