Over-fishing, Conflict, and the South China Sea


In this paper, we determine whether scarcity of a resource that is high in demand can induce international conflict. Specifically, we test whether the combination of fishery depletion and high fishing activity causes an increase conflict in the South China Sea using an instrumental variable approach. This relationship between scarcity and conflict in the South China Sea has been predicted by the resource conflict literature, but this is the first instance it has been confirmed empirically. To operationalize conflict we utilized an original data set of confrontations involving claimants to territory in the South China Sea. Through the use of an instrumental variable, we find support for our hypothesis.

Patrick J. Chester
Patrick J. Chester
Postdoctoral researcher

Patrick Chester is a postdoctoral researcher at the China Data Lab at UC, San Diego who received his PhD from New York University’s Politics Department.