Rising cereal prices and political violence in the croplands of Africa

We tend to associate rioting and mass protest with cities, but a surge in agricultural commodity prices can incite social unrest in rural areas as well. This column shows that rising cereal prices pose an elevated risk of violence in Africa, where agriculture represents a large share of the economy. The authors find that attacks on civilians increase during the harvest season and dissipate as the year progresses – findings that can help pinpoint, on a yearly basis, when conflicts will worsen and where enhanced food security and civilian protections should be deployed.

A new perspective on Chinese agricultural development

A pessimistic view of Chinese agriculture development is based on a Malthusian trap, characterised by diminishing returns to agriculture and a declining land-labour ratio. This column presents stylised empirical facts of 19th and 20th century Chinese agriculture, focusing on the seasonality of labour demand and the resulting rise of sideline employment, to challenge the implications of this view.

Energy sanctions: IGM Forum survey

As Russia’s invasion of Ukraine continues and many call for a strengthening of sanctions, an alternative to a full energy embargo has been discussed in the form of EU tariffs on imports of Russian gas. The IGM Forum at Chicago Booth invited its panels of leading US and European economists to express their views. As this column reports, nearly three-quarters of the experts consider that high tariffs would be an effective measure to reduce the flow of revenues to Russia while limiting disruption to supplies to Europe.

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