The witch-killing syndrome: The politics of tribe

In 2005, Ted Miguel, a professor of economics at University of California, Berkeley, published a now famous paper in The Review of Economic Studies entitled Poverty and Witch Killing.  Using evidence from Tanzania, Miguel investigated violence against the elderly, young children and the helpless and vulnerable members of the society who were labeled “witches”.  As in many parts of Africa, including Nigeria, of course, witchcraft accusations are rife.  There are similar cases in Nigeria where parents carry out dastardly acts of violence against their children whom they allege to be witches.  In the case of Tanzania, Miguel proved that incidents of such violence are driven by poverty and economic hardship which induce more able members of the community to unleash violence or even death on the less able members just so to reduce competition for reduced food rations.

Poverty and Witch KillingPublished PaperAfrican DevelopmentEnvironment and ClimatePolitical Economy and Conflict2005
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