4:00—5:30 PM

Food Prices and Riots: Estimating How the Level and Volatility of Food Prices Shape Social Unrest in the Developing World, 1990-2011

Marc Bellemare
Assistant Professor of Public Policy and Economics
Sanford School of Public Policy, Duke University

Ed Carr
Assistant Professor
Department of Geography, University of South Carolina
American Association for the Advancement of Science Fellow
United States Agency for International Development

Paper Abstract:  Can food prices cause political unrest? Throughout history, riots have frequently broken out, ostensibly as a consequence of high food prices. This paper studies the impact of food prices on political unrest using monthly data at the international level. Results indicate that in the period 1990-2011, food price increases appear to have led to increases in political unrest, whereas food price volatility has been associated with decreased political unrest.

Download the full paper here.

*The Massachusetts Ave. Development Seminar (MADS) is a ten year-old research seminar series that brings some of the world’s leading development scholars to discuss their new research and ideas. The presentations meet an academic standard of quality and are at times technical, but retain a focus on a mixed audience of researchers and policymakers.


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