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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

Some upcoming book events

11 days ago

By the way, this is not just a rule of thumb for the rare violent and threatening tweets, but rather for the far greater number of tweets where a member of your own group is enraging you about the actions of an adversary. This could be events in Ukraine, identity politics, etc

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Financial Times: A best summer book for 2022

12 days ago

By the way, this is not just a rule of thumb for the rare violent and threatening tweets, but rather for the far greater number of tweets where a member of your own group is enraging you about the actions of an adversary. This could be events in Ukraine, identity politics, etc

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Book Club with Jeffrey Sachs

17 days ago

Join Professor Jeffrey Sachs and Professor Christopher Blattman, to explore the dynamics of war and peace as they discuss Blattman’s, Why We Fight: The Roots of War and the Paths to Peace.  In his newest book, Blattman argues that violence is not the norm; that there are five reasons why wars break out; and how peacemakers can draw on these reasons to prevent and stop wars. Together, they explore the dynamics of war and peace: how communities resolve conflicts, and why such efforts sometimes fail, leading to war. As conflict rages in Ukraine, listen in on this timely and vital conversation to learn more about “Why We Fight" and how we can end wars. The Book Club with Jeffrey Sachs is brought to you by the SDG Academy, the flagship education initiative of the UN

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Book Bite from The Next Big Idea Club

29 days ago

Chris Blattman is a professor in the Pearson Institute for the Study and Resolution of Global Conflicts at the University of Chicago. His 20 years of researching war has taken him from a war in northern Uganda, to violent mining camps and urban slums in postwar Liberia, to meet leaders of drug cartels in Medellín, and even work with street gangs in Chicago. His new book argues that fighting is hard, and finding peace is easier than you think.
Below, Chris shares 5 key insights from his new book, Why We Fight: The Roots of War and the Paths to Peace. Listen to the audio version—read by Chris himself—in the Next Big Idea App.
1. Enemies prefer to loathe in peace.
Most people think war is easy and peace is hard, but it’s the other way around. That seems like a

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Eight weeks of therapy, plus some cash, can change the lives of violent men

29 days ago

Placeholder while article actions loadI work with violent young men, from Africa to the Americas — guys so far into lives of crime that a natural reaction is hopelessness. If, 10 years ago, you told me that eight weeks of therapy plus a little cash could turn a significant proportion of them away from that life, I’d have scoffed. But it’s true — as three colleagues and I demonstrated in a new working paper. What we learned in Monrovia, Liberia, holds the potential to change the way America handles its own epidemics of crime and murder.Cognitive behavioral therapy, or CBT, is a set of simple techniques for recognizing your problematic, “automatic” behaviors and training yourself to act differently. For instance, when an emotion like anger swells, CBT helps you recognize how it can distort

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Interview with Christianity Today on Why We Fight

June 1, 2022

Here on the Better Samaritan we’re learning how to “do good better.” Using Jesus’ story as a guiding metaphor, this involves getting better at (like the Good Samaritan did) helping the person left by the side of the Jericho road who was robbed and beaten up. It also involves learning how to make the metaphorical road safer. Why We Fight: The Roots of War and the Paths to Peace, by Chris Blattman, helped me to better understand why the road is dangerous at times–and also how we can make it safer. Full disclosure: the author, who is professor of global conflict studies at The University of Chicago, is also my brother-in-law. I highly value Chris, not just for marrying my sister, but also for important insights from his research and experience. Whether you work at a national or neighborhood

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A study gave cash and therapy to men at risk of criminal behavior. 10 years later, the results are in.

May 31, 2022

What if someone told you that you could dramatically reduce the crime rate without resorting to coercive policing or incarceration? In fact, what if they said you could avert a serious crime — a robbery, say, or maybe even a murder — just by shelling out $1.50?
That’s such an incredibly good deal that it sounds too good to be true. But it’s been borne out by the research of Chris Blattman, Margaret Sheridan, Julian Jamison, and Sebastian Chaskel. Their new study provides experimental evidence that offering at-risk men a few weeks of behavioral therapy plus a bit of cash reduces the future risk of crime and violence, even 10 years after the intervention.
Blattman, an economist at the University of Chicago, never intended to conduct this study. But in 2009, he was hanging out with an

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The Washington Post

May 31, 2022

Placeholder while article actions loadWhen he wrote “Why We Fight: The Roots of War and the Paths to Peace,” economist Christopher Blattman could not have known that Russian President Vladimir Putin would soon invade Ukraine, setting off the deadliest war in Europe since 1945. Putin’s war also created exactly the kind of natural experiment that social scientists like Blattman seek. We therefore have an opportunity to test whether Blattman’s thesis helps us to understand why Putin started such a reckless war and whether the thesis suggests routes toward a lasting peace.Blattman is interested in more than large interstate wars. He wants to understand why any group of humans engages in sustained, organized violence when the costs are so high. He argues that most groups settle their

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Will China invade Taiwan, and what (if anything) can the United States do about it?

May 31, 2022

Last week I wrote a long thread about whether and why China would invade Taiwan:

Will China invade Taiwan? Did Biden’s remarks today make war more or less likely?
I’ve been reading up on this a lot lately. Here’s a summary of the best things I read, and what could lead to a war. Mostly I’m reassured. But not entirely.
A 🧵, obviously. pic.twitter.com/ooLwXItxgB
— Chris Blattman (@cblatts) May 23, 2022

I’ll write up what the analysts and the theory say as a longer post this summer. For now, check out the thread.
I focused mainly on the usual military and foreign policy tools, and whether it made sense for Biden to move “from strategic ambiguity” to a more certain commitment to Taiwan (including concrete political and military investments in the region). Arguably the answer is

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Review of Why We Fight in Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung

May 29, 2022

Der Ökonom Chris Blattman: „Eine demokratische Ukraine ist eine Bedrohung für Putin, wenn er glaubt, dass sie ein Vorbild für russische Dissidenten werden könnte.“
dpa

BEITRAG TEILEN

Bis die ersten Raketen auf Kiew fielen, war es für viele Beobachter unvorstellbar, dass mitten in Europa ein Land ein anderes angreift. Auch Russland hatte vom alten Status quo schließlich über Jahrzehnte profitiert. „Wandel durch Handel“ sollte allen Seiten Frieden und Wohlstand bringen. Wie konnte es also sein, dass dieses Versprechen plötzlich nicht mehr galt?
Wer das verstehen will, der muss Chris

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Why I think the west should support Ukraine big time, but also why we shouldn’t ignore the risks

May 27, 2022

That is my op-ed today in the L.A. Times. I really do think the ruin of war is a useful lens to look at conflict. It also helps us see how this conflict might end, why it might end faster if NATO is unconditional in its support for Ukraine, and why I think that stance is worth the great risks it entails. First, the rest of the op-ed:Even Vladimir Putin, author of the world-changing conflict in Ukraine, tried to avoid war in his own insidious way. For two decades, he employed every underhanded means possible to co-opt Ukraine: dark money, propaganda, political stooges, poisonings and separatist support. He did all of that because, as vicious and costly as these things were, not one was as reckless as war.
I’m not pointing all this out to downplay the horror of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

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When will the costs of war force peace in Ukraine?

May 27, 2022

It’s easy to see the war in Ukraine as a sign of an inescapably violent world. But if the future looks bleak, perhaps that’s because we focus on the conflicts that happen and overlook the gravitational pull of peace.An example came on March 9, two weeks into the Russian invasion. Shortly after sundown, India accidentally launched a cruise missile at Pakistan. Predictably, calm ensued. Both sides strove to avoid escalation — as they have for decades.Focusing on the times peace fails is a kind of selection bias, one that makes us think that war is more common than it really is. The India incident is a good reminder of a simple fact: War is so ruinous that enemies prefer to loathe each other in peace.Even Vladimir Putin, author of the world-changing conflict in Ukraine, tried to avoid war in

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Join an online event with USIP, or get a discounted copy of the book

May 27, 2022

One June 2, 11am-12pm EDT, the U.S. Institute of Peace is hosting an online conversation between me and Raj Kumar, head of DevEx about Why We Fight. Register at that link to join.
Those in the US may also order a 20% discounted copy of the book here. It will ship shortly after the event.
The next few weeks I’ll be doing live and hybrid events with the World Bank, IRC, USAID, and others. The fall I’ll be speaking at universities again. If your organization or school is interested in an event, don’t hesitate to reach out to me.

Related

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The Mission podcast

May 20, 2022

In this series, Nesta Chief Executive Ravi Gurumurthy is joined by a range of thought leaders as he explores the innovations and ideas that can be applied to tackling some of society’s greatest challenges

Why we fight with Chris Blattman

In this special live episode, Nesta’s Chief Executive, Ravi Gurumurthy speaks to Chris Blattman, Professor of Global Conflict Studies at The University of Chicago’s Pearson Institute. They discuss Chris’s new book, Why We Fight, and how social science can help us understand conflict.

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Interview with Atlantico (France)

May 19, 2022

La police arrête un homme en marge des manifestations contre l’aggravation de la crise économique, à Monrovia, au Libéria, le 6 janvier 2020.©Carielle Doe / AFPSolutions optimalesLa thérapie cognitivo-comportementale (TCC) peut contribuer à réduire les comportements délinquants chez les jeunes à risque et chez les hommes ayant déjà commis des actes répréhensibles. Cette méthode a permis de lutter efficacement contre la violence au Libéria, selon une nouvelle étude de professeurs et de chercheurs de l’Université de Chicago, de l’Université d’Exeter et de l’Université de Caroline du Nord. Atlantico : Avec vos trois co-auteurs, Sebastian Chaskel, Julian C. Jamison et Margaret Sheridan, vous avez étudié comment la thérapie cognitivo-comportementale – qui vise à la remise en question et au

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Probable Causation podcast

May 18, 2022

[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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Atlantico (France)

May 17, 2022

Des femmes apprennent le maniement des armes en Ukraine. Atlantico : Vous avez récemment publié un livre intitulé "Why we fight" (Pourquoi nous nous battons) et, à l’occasion de la fête des mères aux États-Unis, vous avez décidé d’examiner la question sur un fil : Y aurait-il moins de guerre dans le monde si les mamans étaient aux commandes ? L’argument commun est qu’elles sont par nature plus pacifiques, en raison de leur nature ou de leur culture. Mais vous avez tendance à rejeter cette approche. Pourquoi cet argument ne tient-il pas selon vous ?Christopher Blattman : Les femmes sont un peu plus favorables à la paix que les hommes, du moins lorsqu’elles sont interrogées. La plupart de ces preuves proviennent de quelques démocraties avancées (principalement les États-Unis). Pourtant, les

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

May 11, 2022

[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

May 9, 2022

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

May 7, 2022

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

May 6, 2022

[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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Big Brains podcast

May 4, 2022

Show Notes

War is costly, deadly and destructive. So, why do we do it? In his new book Why We Fight: The Roots of War and The Paths to Peace, Prof. Chris Blattman of the University of Chicago lays out the five main reasons why countries go to war—and why building peace is actually a lot easier than we may think.
Blattman is an economist and political scientist who studies global conflict, crime and poverty. As a seasoned peacebuilder, he has worked in a number of countries to help mitigate conflict between gang leaders, political enemies and ethnic villages. He argues that one of the keys to finding peace is using a tool called the bargaining range to give both sides a piece of what they want.
In this episode, Blattman discusses how wars come to be,

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Conversations With Tyler

May 4, 2022

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

May 3, 2022

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

May 3, 2022

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?

May 3, 2022

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

April 29, 2022

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

April 29, 2022


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

April 28, 2022

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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