The deep roots of rebellion

Abstract: This paper analyzes the triggers of rebellion and documents the historical roots of conflict using a unique dataset at the individual level. Drawing on evidence from the Famine (1845–1850) and its effect on the Irish Revolution (1916–1921), we show how negative shocks can explain social unrest in the long run. These findings are confirmed by the analysis of surnames, which enables the study of socio-cultural persistence over time. The instrumental variable analysis based on the wind direction that determined the spread of the potato blight that caused the Famine provides further evidence in support of the legacy of rebellion.

Keywords: Conflict, Famine, Irish Revolution.

JEL classification: Z10, F51, N53, N44.

Lay summary: Motivations in conflict are very complicated, and rebellions and civil wars are no less difficult to unpack. This paper considers the decade of rebellion that Ireland experienced in the early 20th century, and links it to the Great Famine of the 1840s. In doing so, it suggests that, along with the more traditional motivations for rebellion, there is a connection between the impact the Famine had on regions and families, and the likelihood of those regions and families to rebel in the 1920s.

Cite this article:
Gaia Narciso, Battista Severgnini,’The deep roots of rebellion’, Journal of Development Economics, Volume 160, 2023, 102952,