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Chris Blattman

Chris Blattman

Political economist studying conflict, crime, and poverty, and @UChicago Professor @HarrisPolicy and @PearsonInst. I blog at http://chrisblattman.com

Articles by Chris Blattman

Probable Causation podcast

1 day ago

[unable to retrieve full-text content]For listeners who want the more advanced discussion of the book and research, this is the go-to podcast
The post Probable Causation podcast appeared first on Chris Blattman.

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The terrible trade-off: Why less violent cities often means more powerful and organized crime

8 days ago

[unable to retrieve full-text content]More than half the world lives in cities, and a lot of those cities (especially those in the Americas) are plagued with homicides and crime. Americans often think this violence is an individual problem: greed, passions, feuds, and hot reactive thinking drive killers. That’s true to an extent. But this view overlooks something important: that, […]
The post The terrible trade-off: Why less violent cities often means more powerful and organized crime appeared first on Chris Blattman.

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EconTalk

10 days ago

0:37Intro. [Recording date: March 24, 2022.]Russ Roberts: Today is March 24th, 2022, and my guest is economist and author, Chris Blattman of the University of Chicago. This is Chris’s fourth appearance on EconTalk. He was last here in July of 2017, talking about Chickens, Cash, Development. Our topic for today is his book, Why We Fight: The Roots of War and the Paths to Peace. Chris, welcome back to EconTalk.Chris Blattman: Thanks for having me.1:04Russ Roberts: How did this book come about? Why did you write a book, of all things, on war?Chris Blattman: Well, I’ve been working on the subject for myself. I mean, it seems far from chickens and cash. Maybe it’s worth saying: Chickens and cash was a little bit of a detour for me. I was working in conflict zones from about 2004 and initially

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Wall Street Journal

12 days ago

A member of the Ukrainian special forces in the city of Kharkiv on March 30, 2022.

Photo:

FADEL SENNA/AFP/Getty Images

By

Adam Kuper

May 6, 2022 11:05 am ET

On July 30, 1932, exactly 6 months before

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Tradle, Russian demographic disasters, writing advice, why economics publishing has hit a new low, and other links I liked

13 days ago

[unable to retrieve full-text content]  1. I am loving Tradle (guess the country by its exports–this one took me 5 tries) 2. Clive Thompson’s writing advice: getting a first draft is all about finding ways to trick yourself into avoiding procrastination When I’ve finally convinced myself to sit down and start writing, I write prose by following four rules. […]
The post Tradle, Russian demographic disasters, writing advice, why economics publishing has hit a new low, and other links I liked appeared first on Chris Blattman.

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Conversations With Tyler

15 days ago

What causes war? Many scholars have spent their careers attempting to study the psychology of leaders to understand what incentivizes them to undertake the human and financial costs of conflict, but economist and political scientist Chris Blattman takes a different approach to understanding interstate violence. He returns for his second appearance on Conversations with Tyler to discuss his research into the political and institutional causes of conflict, the topic of his new book ​​Why We Fight: The Roots of War and The Path to Peace.
Chris and Tyler also cover why he doesn’t think demographics are a good predictor of a country’s willingness to go to war, the informal norms that restrain nations, the dangers of responding to cyberattacks, the breakdown of elite bargains in Ethiopia,

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Lawfare’s Chatter podcast

16 days ago

Millions of hostile rivalries exist between groups worldwide, but their conflicts rarely escalate to protracted violence. Because would-be combatants know that all-out conflict usually proves immensely costly to all sides, they regularly find ways to avoid open warfare. And when it comes to international affairs in particular, we tend to focus on the wars that do occur at the expense of internalizing the core truth that, most of the time, they simply don’t happen.
Political scientist and economist Christopher Blattman has a fresh take on these big issues of war and peace. He argues for sustained attention not only to the mechanisms by which conflict wins out over compromise but also to the remedies that routinely shift incentives away from protracted violence and get rivals back to

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Readers: A humble request

16 days ago

If you’ve enjoyed the posts, the links, and the advice columns over the years, I have a request.
Those of you who have gotten my book Why We Fight: Reviews are extremely helpful for sales and marketing. Please consider writing one, or even leaving a starred rating without a formal review.
The most helpful thing is to post both on the site you bought the book and on Goodreads.
After Goodreads, here are links to the book on Amazon US, Amazon UK, Amazon Canada, and other booksellers with links here.
Of course, if you haven’t bought the book, please consider doing so, or tweeting about it, or posting on Facebook!

Related

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How much longer can Ukraine and Russia continue to fight, and what are the prospects for escalation versus stalemate?

16 days ago

Dmitri Alperovitch asks how Ukraine will pay for its war if it cannot export in this thread:

Let’s talk about the state of the war and one of the most underreported yet crucially important issues:
Russian blockade of Ukrainian ports and resulting strangulation of the country’s economy 🧵
— Dmitri Alperovitch (@DAlperovitch) April 30, 2022

The full thread is worth reading but here is the key part:

Last week I pointed to Yuriy Gorodnichenko‘s estimate that Ukraine needed about 40-50% of monthly pre-war national income to wage the war, and his skepticism that Western assistance could fill the gap. So how Ukrainians can produce and export goods is a big question for those  of us who would like to see them stay strong against the invasion.
This is a risky and expensive war for Russia too,

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Root of Conflict podcast

20 days ago

What makes conflict win out over compromise? In this episode, we speak with Dr. Chris Blattman, an acclaimed expert on violence and conflict. His recent book, “Why We Fight,” draws on economics, political science, and psychology to examine the root causes of war and the paths to peace.In light of the Russian invasion of Ukraine and the other ongoing conflicts our world faces today, many of us are wondering, is resorting to violence the norm? Are the paths to war easier than the paths to peace? Examining real-world interventions, “Why We Fight” explores why violent conflict is rare in reality and how successful societies interrupt and end violence through peacebuilding.This podcast is produced in partnership with the Pearson Institute for the Study and Resolution of

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What to do if Elon Musk tries to buy your company, a survey of peer reviewers, taking oligarchs to court, Elton John on The Muppets, and other links I liked

20 days ago


1. Elton John singing Crocodile Rock on The Muppets (1972) and William Shatner performing a spoken word Rocketman
2. An excerpt from Deer Man, one man’s account of deciding to live life alone in the forest from age 16.

Since I started living in the forest, I’ve become exhausted. I wake up far too often and struggle to get back to sleep. The hooting owls, the screeching foxes, and particularly the boar make a terrible racket. They squeak and scream and grunt and run in all directions. But the worst enemy of sleep is the cold. Several times I suffer from hypothermia. It is the same every time: I go to sleep, start dreaming, and all of a sudden I wake up quite numb, feeling as if I am going to be sick.

After a few weeks, the lack of sleep starts to make me hallucinate. I hear voices, see

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80,000 Hours podcast

21 days ago

TranscriptTable of ContentsRob’s intro [00:00:00]Rob Wiblin: Hi listeners, this is The 80,000 Hours Podcast, where we have unusually in-depth conversations about the world’s most pressing problems, what you can do to solve them, and what to do if you’re handcuffed to someone on the side of a cliff. I’m Rob Wiblin, Head of Research at 80,000 Hours.Recent events have had people thinking a lot about interstate conflict, which made it a no-brainer to interview economist Chris Blattman about his new book Why We Fight.I’ve followed Chris on his blog for many years, and I imagine many of you listeners have read some of his work before. Why We Fight gives a lovely overview of the theory of when and why people choose violence, which is a super important topic we’ve never covered on the show

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What are the prospects for a long war of attrition in Ukraine?

21 days ago

How long will the Russian war in Ukraine continue? The Russian aggression has no end in sight and so Ukraine should prepare for a war of attrition. In other words, it will be not only a fight of armed forces but also an economic competition. Who can procure more weapons? Who can muster more materiel? Who has larger reserves?
That is UC Berkeley economist (and Ukrainian) Yuriy Gorodnichenko in Vox Ukraine. He writes about lessons from war mobilization of the US and European economies. But the implication is that this war could drag on for years.
That’s frightening but also plausible, as there’s clear precedent for this. Putin waged a war of attrition in Chechnya, twice. You could easily argue that most of Russia’s long wars over the last century have been ones where they throw endless men

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If Ukraine wants a settlement, the West should support them

22 days ago

As horror mounts over Russia’s war crimes, the clamour for Vladimir Putin to be held to account is growing. Joe Biden has accused Russia of committing genocide in Ukraine and has labelled the Russian president a ‘war criminal’. Even Emmanuel Macron – who is the Western leader who has done the most to try and talk Putin around – has said he has run out of patience with Putin. Yet Russia’s leader remains unfazed: the 64th motorised brigade, which has been accused of committing war crimes in Bucha, the suburb of Kiev where mass graves were discovered following Russia’s retreat, has in the last few days been awarded an honour in a presidential decree for its ‘mass heroism’.Putin’s refusal to back down is infuriating. But while it’s understandable that many in the West won’t be happy until

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The Weeds podcast at Vox.com

22 days ago

[unable to retrieve full-text content]Fabulous discussion with the best social science reporter I know, Dylan Matthews
The post The Weeds podcast at Vox.com appeared first on Chris Blattman.

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Join book events in New York, DC, and online

23 days ago

[unable to retrieve full-text content]I’ll be organizing events in more cities, but in the meantime I’d invite you to join in person or online the following events. If you’d like to organize or suggest an event online or in-person, please go here. New York and online: Tomorrow April 27, 6-7pm ET: Andaz Hotel in Midtown, hosted by UChicago. Details […]
The post Join book events in New York, DC, and online appeared first on Chris Blattman.

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The Neoliberal podcast

23 days ago

[unable to retrieve full-text content]Why do nations fight when it’s clear how incredibly destructive war is?
The post The Neoliberal podcast appeared first on Chris Blattman.

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Every war has both psychological and strategic roots, and we don’t need to choose just one explanation

23 days ago

That is my op-ed in today’s WSJ. You don’t get to pick your headlines, and I am guessing “The Strategic Logic of Russia’s War on Ukraine” will get misinterpreted somewhat.My view: this is a war driven by Mr. Putin’s psychology, but like all psychological roots of war, they are only decisive when the strategic bargaining space is so narrow. Some will see this as a rationalist take on war, but this is only partly true (and it’s a term I loathe). That’s because it’s not an either/or—strategic and other roots can work in concert, and we should understand this more systematically.Also, the classic rationalist take on war tends to omit the single most important driver of war (in my mind): unaccountable power. This is an agency problem—leaders who ignore the costs of war to their society, because

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The German romance with Russia was wider than Gerhard Schröder

25 days ago

This New York Times article on Gerhard Schröder’s entanglements with Russia and Putin is justifiably gaining attention. It’s a good piece. I still remember Tyler Cowen’s post on this from 5 years ago, which shocked me as something deeply important in foreign affairs of which (to that point) I was wholly unaware.Here is Tyler’s original post in full, titled A bit of context on Trump, NATO, and Germany:I strongly favor NATO and I don’t think you can trust the Russians with just about anything, or for that matter make much of a deal with them.  I’m with Mitt Romney on all of this, as I’ve been saying for years.
That said, I feel some of the recent discussions on Trump’s pronouncements have been a bit kontextlos.  I would suggest this wee bit of background history:
1. Not too long ago, Germany

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Michael Shermer Show

26 days ago

Https://traffic.libsyn.com/secure/sciencesalon/mss265_Chris_Blattman_2022_4_5.mp3
[embedded content]

Shermer and Blattman discuss: Putin, Russia, and Ukraine • game theory and violent conflict • 5 Reasons for conflict and war • common elements of conflict in Medellin, Chicago, Sudan, Somalia, etc. • U.S. foreign policy in Iraq, Afghanistan, Ukraine, and elsewhere, and its consequences • human nature and conflict: are we wired to fight or do environments push us into conflicts? • cooperation vs. competition / selfish genes vs. collective action problems • inner demons and better angels • violence and wars in our paleolithic ancestors • why violence has declined over the centuries • Chicago as a test case for theories of conflict and peace • why gangs, groups, and even nations mostly

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Arrests, shootings plunged among those who took part in anti-violence program, even as crime spiked in city, new study finds

27 days ago

A new study of a Chicago-based anti-violence program has provided some of the best evidence to date that there are ways to tamp down violence among members of the most endangered populations in the city without arresting them or throwing them in jail.The last two years-plus have seen unprecedented spikes in violence in Chicago and cities across the U.S. Amid that surge, protesters took to the streets to decry the kind of aggressive policing that’s long been the standard response to rising murder totals.City leaders have poured record amounts of funding into dozens of community programs — and spent hundreds of millions on police overtime —

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Interview with Anthony Scaramucci

27 days ago

In this episode, Anthony is joined by Nina Jankowicz bestselling author and internationally-recognized expert on disinformation and democratization. Together they discuss Nina’s brand-new book, How to Be a Woman Online: Surviving Abuse and Harassment, and How to Fight Back, which provides concise steps women can take to protect themselves in online spaces. Nina then moves on to share her assessment of the current situation in Russia, and their use of social media.  
Next, Christopher Blattman, economist and professor of Global Conflict Studies at the University of Chicago talks with Anthony about his book Why We Fight: The Roots of War and the Paths to Peace, which lays out a framework to explain the root causes and remedies for war, showing that violence is not the norm

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The Economist recommends Why We Fight

28 days ago

Apr 23rd 2022Listen to this story.Enjoy more audio and podcasts on iOS or Android.Your browser does not support the element.Listen to this storySave time by listening to our audio articles as you multitaskOKWhy We Fight. By Christopher Blattman. Viking; 400 pages; $32 and £18.99AS WHAT COULD end up as Europe’s bloodiest war since 1945 grinds on, this is an apposite time for a book explaining why and when human beings fight and, at least as importantly, why they do so rarely. A dismal belief holds that people are hard-wired to settle disputes by violent means. Christopher Blattman, a Canadian development economist specialising in the study of conflict, says the opposite is true.Even people with a reputation for making extreme violence the basis of their business models, such as gang

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Charter Cities Podcast

29 days ago

[unable to retrieve full-text content]Tackling Poverty and Preventing War
The post Charter Cities Podcast appeared first on Chris Blattman.

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Reddit AMA

April 19, 2022

Hi, I’m Chris Blattman from The University of Chicago’s Harris School of Public Policy. My book Why We Fight: The Roots of War and the Paths to Peace publishes tomorrow April 19th. ProofI’m an economist and political scientist. I’ve worked in civil wars in East & West Africa, and with gangs in Colombia and Chicago. My book looks at fighting of every kind—from civil conflicts and gang wars to ancient Greece and the World Wars, plus the kinds of invasions we are witnessing now in Ukraine.Why We Fight walks through the psychological and strategic forces of war, especially the ones we tend to overlook. It’s easy to forget that war shouldn’t happen — and that most of the time it doesn’t. There are millions of hostile rivalries around the globe and yet only a fraction erupt into violence. That’s

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Global Dispatches podcast

April 18, 2022

The economist Chris Blattman is well known in academic and policy circles for his research and writing on peace, conflict and economic development. Chris Blattman is a professor at the Harris School of Public Policy at the University of Chicago and he is out with a brand new book, Why We Fight: The Roots of War and the Paths to Peace.The book boils down decades of social science around peace and conflict, using examples throughout history, to explain why groups resort to war. This book is a highly accessible way for the general public to understand what many academics know about war and peace.Apple Podcasts  | Google Podcasts |  Spotify  | Podcast Addict  |  Stitcher  | Radio Public Mark L. Goldberg [00:02:04] So I wanted to start our conversation where you start your book. You begin with

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Brand new blog, and mailbag request: Ask me anything

April 18, 2022

Hi folks, the blog received a facelift! Time to modernize the look. Check it out.
Also, I am here for your questions. I’m hosting a Reddit AMA today, so please put your questions there. Queries are collecting now, and I’ll start responding midday.

Related

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The best history of April

April 17, 2022

The best history of AprilChris Schluep | April 4, 2022The books in the best history of April are all of a theme. Usually, the monthly list includes a few titles that could be considered less historical, more esoteric. For instance, a book about the history of the mosquito comes to mind (it’s an important, if not immediately obvious, history by the way). But this month the books are all very historical. Is that what happens when you feel like you are watching history play out in real time on your television, newspaper, or phone every night? Maybe.Below are a few of our favorites, and be sure to check out the full list. Happy reading.I chose this book as my personal pick for the month of April—because it’s a true story, it reads like a thriller, and there might not be a more timely or

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