ECOS3997: Social Conflict and Economic Development

ECOS3997: Conflict and Economic Development

Background: Economists are increasingly required to work in interdisciplinary teams and engage with members of the general public to express their research findings.

In this assessment, your task is to educate a non-specialist audience about the economics of your assigned stream topic.

You will translate your advanced academic knowledge of your stream topic into an engaging and educating article that a member of the general public can understand and enjoy. This article could be a magazine article, longform newspaper op-ed, piece for The Economist, or similar. You can assume your audience cares about money/profit/taxation/etc., but you can't assume they know how the economy works or the theories that an economist would use to analyse it.

Assignment task: Write an article for a popular publication to educate a non-specialist audience about an issue, debate, or future prediction pertaining to your stream topic.

Social conflict and economic development are invariably interconnected. On the one hand, low levels of economic development in a locality can be a cause of conflict, while on the other hand conflict itself may negatively affect a locality’s level of economic development. In this stream, we examine the existing academic evidence in this regard. We start by examining the nature of social conflict across the world and discuss why people fight. Based on this understanding, we next examine a range of causes and consequences of conflict, such as climate, commodity prices, socioeconomic well-being and political institutions, along with their economic implications. We will engage in critical discussions on how existing analyses can be further improved to enhance our understanding of social conflict, as well as to provide appropriate policy recommendations. At the end of the course, students will use a range of publicly available data sets to analyse the causes and consequences of real-world conflicts, and submit (a) a written report targeted at policy makers, and (b) a media presentation targeted at the public.

Stream 2 Written Assignment

For a conflict of your choice, write a detailed report analyzing its economic causes and consequences.

Based on your analysis of the consequences, provide at least one policy recommendation that can be used in post-conflict development. Explain the reasoning behind your recommendation.

• You will be required to substantiate your report using data (for example, number of conflict deaths, GDP, population, poverty, unemployment rate, imports/exports, foreign direct investments, military expenditure, mortality, literacy etc.)   

• You will need to include at least 1 “original” visualization AND at least 1 “original” quantification in your report.

Points to note:

• Choose a conflict that interests you. Conflict is arguably a very complex occurrence and none of us are completely knowledgeable on every conflict in the world. So choosing a conflict that you know at least a little about can help in making your assignment “interesting”.

• Read the literature and cite it! You should read the existing literature to understand what has been studied about (a) conflict in general and (b) the specific conflict. This will help you to organize your thoughts and understand what has been done in the relevant area. Make sure you acknowledge all the previous work in your report. Failure to do so means you conduct the grave academic misconduct of "plagiarism". This is the gravest form of academic dishonesty - can land you in lots of trouble.

• Choose a conflict for which data is available. The final mark you get for the written report will depend on the data analysis. You will need to analyze/visualize data for variables of choice. Therefore, choosing a historical conflict (ie, one that took place long ago) may not be ideal, as it will make data collection burdensome. Pro tip: Most easily-accessible conflict and economic data sets start from the 1990’s and go up to 2021.

• Show your data skills. You will download data from relevant sources and analyze them, providing quantitative support to your essay

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