This paper expands on the relationship between disease burdens and the onset of violent conflict in Sub-Saharan Africa from 1990-2012. Most studies have focused on conflict as a cause of HIV transmission, while some suggest that HIV infection rates, by substantially reducing life-expectancy, increase the onset of violence by lowering the opportunity cost of rebelling for HIV-positive individuals. This paper argues that to the degree that life expectancy is important to opportunity costs, it is more likely driven by other factors. First, I argue preventable diseases that are less connected to individual decision-making, and the presence of poor health infrastructure more generally, are more likely to both introduce grievances and lower the opportunity costs of rebellion. Second, I argue the HIV-onset link requires the questionable assumptions that HIV positive individuals know their status in sufficient numbers, are fit to fight after learning of their status, and "have nothing to live for." By introducing more direct and disaggregated measures from the Global Burden of Disease project, including years of life lost and disability-adjusted life years, I find that non-HIV health challenges are strongly associated with onset of violent conflict.
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Master of Arts (M.A.)
College of Sciences
School of Politics, Security, and International Affairs
Length of Campus-only Access
Masters Thesis (Open Access)
Escalanti, Devyn, "In Sickness or In Health: The Impact of Disease Burdens on the Likelihood of Violent Conflict" (2020). Electronic Theses and Dissertations, 2020-. 209.