By Noshua Watson
I spent my holiday in a beach chair near Chania, Greece, drinking frappes and watching NATO aircraft carriers, planes and submarines go by on their way to Libya. Despite Greece’s macroeconomic problems (you might have heard about this) and its microeconomic problems (a taxi strike that peeved the tourists who bothered to visit), life still seemed awfully good.
It’s obvious that war can boost GDP (at least in the short term), but peace is better for the development of human capital. What is not so obvious is that our models of growth are premised on peace, but war, or at least conflict, seems to be the default in human activity.
Is peace a precondition for growth? It can be, but can we develop policies for growth that assume conflict? Of course, a lot of people find that conflict is pretty good for their line of work. But IDS researchers on the MICROCON project have also found that the poor have ways of coping, but sometimes thriving in conflict, as well. How can we help others grow without waiting for peace?