DP12397 | Silver, Murder, and Institutions: Did the “Curse of Resources” impact on Homicide Rates? Global evidence since 1890

Publication Date


JEL Code(s)


Programme Area(s)



Does mining increase interpersonal violence? While the impact of natural resources on civil war and interstate conflict is well examined, its link to a second form of violence – namely the everyday, interpersonal form – is less explored. We assess the effect of silver mining on homicide rates, choosing silver because it was an important mining product for many countries over a substantial time span. We use a newly collected, global sample of countries for more than 100 years from 1890 to 1990 and find that high silver production leads to heightened violence. The effect is particularly pronounced in the interaction with autocratic governance systems. To rule out endogeneity, we use silver prices and silver deposit sites per area as instrumental variables. The takeaway message is that economies majorly dependent on mining resources are not only prone to get involved in violent conflict, but are also at risk to have a higher day-to-day violence level.