This article undertakes an empirical test of the proposition that natural disasters increase the risk of violent conflict. Climate change is expected to increase the risk of natural disasters, and India has been pointed to as being particularly at risk. State-level data from India for the period 1956-2002 are used to assess quantitatively whether climate-related natural disasters in India have contributed to increased rates of riots and politically motivated violence. The results indicate that disasters increase the risk of riots where literacy levels are high, and politically motivated violence where literacy levels are low. However, although statistically significant, the effect in both cases is so weak that it requires exceptional circumstances for disasters to have any substantially important impact.
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