Economics of War and Peace (Fall 2023)

Standard economics models assume economic transactions take place in a peaceful environment or the outcome of such transactions are peaceful. However, over the past half a century or so, peaceful environment has not existed in roughly a third of the countries in the world: between 1945-1999, 73 states had some form of violent conflict (civil wars), which lasted for a median of about 6 years and resulted in a cumulative loss of approximately 16.2 million lives. What do economists know about the causes, conduct, and consequences of violent conflicts? How can economists’ way of thinking help to make the world more peaceful?

To answer these questions, the course begins with an overview of the relationship between conflict and economics and various datasets and methodologies for empirical study of conflict and peace. It then provides a survey of various economics theories and illustrations related to (a) causes of (violent) conflict and peace, (b) preparation for and conduct of conflict, (c) consequences/aspects of conflict, and (d) institutions and conflict prevention. The course will help develop analytical lenses grounded in economics to view and understand the world around us.


Economics is the study of how society allocates scarce resources to the production and consumption of goods and services. In this class you will learn a new set of tools to use in personal, business, and political decision making. You will learn to think like an economist, which will not only help you make rational decisions, but also assist you in viewing and understanding the world around you. While we discuss individual and firm behavior in a specific context, you will learn to understand production and sales very broadly. This will help you relate the principles that guide production and sales decisions to a wide variety of social, political, and economic issues around us. This also allows us to capture the subjective and intangible costs and benefits individuals face in making decisions every day, and makes economics relevant for the study of poverty, development, and overall human well-being.

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