In an era where global trade is under pressure, it is heatedly debated whether a more integrated, globalized world is fueling or appeasing conflicts. Past studies have focused on how trade links impact interstate wars, but the effects of globalization on domestic conflict have been severely understudied. Our dataset of the strategic importance of each point of the globe allows us to shed light on this controversy. This algorithm-based measure is constructed by using exclusively natural terrain features, thereby avoiding common methodological pitfalls confounding results. We find that while strategic locations may often be the object of armed competition, periods of international trade booms increase the incentives to protect trade routes and attenuate the conflict risk at strategically important locations.
Globalization is routinely blamed for various ills, including fueling conflict in strategic locations. To…