Effects of Civil Wars on International Trade, 1950-92

AuthorResat Bayer,Matthew C. Rupert
Publication Date01 November 2004
Date01 November 2004
Strange (1988: 167) argued that ‘nothing . . .
has such a dampening effect on international
trade as war’. Many studies since then have
examined the effect of interstate conflicts on
economic interdependence (Pollins, 1989a,b;
Gowa & Mansfield, 1993; Mansfield, 1994;
Mansfield & Bronson, 1997; Bliss & Russett,
1998; Barbieri & Levy, 1999; Morrow,
Siverson & Tabares, 1998, 1999; Morrow,
1999; Anderton & Carter, 2001; Li & Sacko,
2002). At the same time, scholars have
increasingly documented the economic con-
sequences of civil wars (see Collier, 1999;
Berdal & Malone, 2000; FitzGerald, Stewart
& Wang, 2001; Collier & Sambanis, 2002;
Collier et al., 2003).
This study contributes to the existing
literature on conflict and trade by investi-
gating the effect of civil wars on bilateral
trade. Is it only interstate conflict that affects
bilateral trade, or does intrastate conflict also
have an effect? Figure 1 shows the bilateral
trade between the United States and two
countries in Central America: El Salvador
and Costa Rica. This graph highlights the
damage that civil wars can do – El Salvador
had a civil war between 1979 and 1992. El
Salvador is geographically closer and more
populous than Costa Rica. For much of the
period, El Salvador also had a larger
© 2004 Journal of Peace Research,
vol. 41, no. 6, 2004, pp. 699–713
Sage Publications (London, Thousand Oaks, CA
and New Delhi) www.sagepublications.com
DOI 10.1177/0022343304047433 ISSN 0022-3433
Effects of Civil Wars on International Trade,
Department of Political Science, Pennsylvania State University
The relationship between economic interdependence and international conflict is a burgeoning research
topic. Previous research has examined the role of interstate conflict on bilateral total trade. Civil wars
also have severe consequences on society and are not uncommon. This article seeks to shed light on
this relationship by examining the impact of civil war in one country on the total bilateral trade between
the afflicted state and its trade partners. The repercussions of civil war participation on a militarily inter-
vening third party’s trade also receive scrutiny. Furthermore, the outcome of the civil war is investigated
to determine whether all war terminations have the same effects on trade. Finally, this article questions
whether the effects of civil wars can be mitigated by security partnerships. One key finding from analy-
ses of 120 countries between 1950 and 1992 is that civil wars decrease bilateral trade between states by
one-third. In addition, the findings indicate that the effects of civil wars on trade are not limited to
countries where the civil wars are occurring but also affect joiners. Furthermore, the outcome types of
civil wars have repercussions for future bilateral trade and, under certain situations, their effects can be
* An earlier version of this article was presented at the 43rd
Annual Convention of the International Studies Associ-
ation, New Orleans, LA, 24–27 March 2002. We thank
Michael Brzoska, Faten Ghosn, Quan Li, David Sacko,
Mark Souva, and the anonymous reviewers for useful
comments. Bayer was supported by the Forrest Crawford
Fellowship for Ethical Inquiry. The dataset used in this
article can be obtained from http://www.prio.no/
jpr/datasets.asp. Correspondence: rbayer@psu.edu or
03 bayer (ds) 24/9/04 10:57 am Page 699

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