Working Papers

Results sorted by Country

Afghanistan

A central question in intrastate conflicts is how insurgents are able to mobilize supporters to participate in violent and risky activities. A common explanation is that violence committed by counterinsurgent forces mobilizes certain segments of the population through a range of mechanisms. We study the effects of civilian casualties in Iraq...

Colombia

Studies of civil conflict show that insurgencies require social support from civilians to prosper. But these studies’ findings are inconsistent with survey data from many conflict contexts, which routinely show consistently strong support for the counterinsurgents, even in areas of insurgent success. How can we explain this discrepancy...

Iraq

Scholars of civil war and insurgency have long posited that insurgent organizations and their state enemies incur costs for the collateral damage they cause. We provide the first direct quantitative evidence that wartime informing is affected by civilian casualties. Using newly declassified data on tip flow to Coalition forces in Iraq we find...

The unemployed are often inculpated in the production of violence during conflict. A simple yet common argument describes these individuals as disaffected and inclined to perpetrate affectively motivated violence. A second holds that they are drawn to violent political organizations for lack of better outside options. Yet, evidence in support...

A cornerstone of strategic thinking is a clear understanding of one’s opponent. Developing such an understanding in dealing with the Islamic State (IS) is challenging. Constraints on access to the frontlines in Iraq and Syria make it unusually hard for researchers to ground assessments in evidence‐based approaches.

This occasional paper...

Most interpretations of prevalent counterinsurgency theory imply that increasing government services will reduce rebel violence. Empirically, however, development programs and economic activity sometimes yield increased violence. Using new panel data on development spending in Iraq, we show that violence reducing effects of aid are greater when...

A central question in intrastate conflicts is how insurgents are able to mobilize supporters to participate in violent and risky activities. A common explanation is that violence committed by counterinsurgent forces mobilizes certain segments of the population through a range of mechanisms. We study the effects of civilian casualties in Iraq...

Mexico

Citizens in Mexico are trapped in between two illegitimate forces – the drug gangs and their criminal organizations and the police who are supposed to protect them. Through the use of list experiments within the Survey on Public Safety and Governance in Mexico (SPSGM), we measure the pervasiveness of drug gang activity as it pertains to...

Pakistan

We examine the relationship between policymaker personalities, job performance, and response to reforms in Punjab combining: (i) Big 5 personality and Perry Public Sector Motivation tests of the universe of health inspectors and senior health officials and a large and representative sample of doctors; (ii) measures of job performance from...

In many developing countries, public sector absence is both common and resistant to reform. One explanation for this is that politicians provide public jobs with limited work requirements as patronage. We test this patronage hypothesis in Pakistan using: (i) a randomized controlled evaluation of a novel smartphone absence monitoring technology...

The nighttime satellite images of streetlights are used increasingly by scholars as potentially useful measures of economic performance in developing countries, which often su§er from lack of accurate census data to make the assessment of subnational income levels di¢ cult. However, the lights are also reáective of the level of basic public...

Numerous theoretical models posit that income is negatively correlated with support for violent political organizations either because of low opportunity costs to participation or because those who feel excluded from and disadvantaged by the existing political hierarchy are more likely to support non-state actors trying to disrupt it. Recent...

Philippines

Worldwide, extreme poverty is often concentrated in spaces where people and property are not safe enough to sustain effective markets, and where development assistance is dangerous – and might even induce violence. Expanding governance by coercively taking control of territory may enable markets and development programs, but costs to local...

Many governments and international experts consider a move towards high-value export crops, such as fruits and vegetables, as an important opportunity for economic growth and poverty reduction. Little is known, however, about the effects of export crops in fragile and conflict- affected countries. We exploit movements in world market prices...

This paper explores the relationship between investment and political violence through several possible mechanisms. Investment as a predictor of future violence implies that low private sector investment today provides a robust indicator of high violence tomorrow. “Rent-capture” or predation asserts that investment increases violence by...

Others

Using a panel of 6,784 Kenyan police officers, we show how the rise of ethnic politics encroached on their daily behavior during Kenya's independence period (1957-1970). We find a significant deterioration in discipline after Kenya's first multiparty election in 1961 for those police officers of ethnic groups associated with the dominant KANU...

Why do foreign investments that can improve economic welfare also induce protest? Using a newly compiled dataset on commercial mining, commodity prices, and protest in Africa, I first establish that foreign investment projects increase the probability of protest. I then develop a theoretical model to explain these conflicts. I argue that...

The creation of new local governments is a pervasive feature of decentralization in developing countries. This redistricting process often causes substantial changes in two widely debated sources of conflict: diversity and contestable public resources. Using new geospatial data on violence and the plausibly exogenous timing of district creation...

This article provides a new methodology to predict conflict by using newspaper text. Through machine learning, vast quantities of newspaper text are reduced to interpretable topic shares. We use changes in topic shares to predict conflict one and two years before it occurs. In our predictions we distinguish between predicting the likelihood of...

The literature on information and accountability has largely focused on voters, ignoring how voter characteristics affect the behavior of politicians. We address this gap by examining how politicians react to more informed voters in developing countries. Since more informed voters are harder to woo through campaign promises, ethnic cues, and...

This paper uses satellite imagery to measure local food production as a proxy for civilian security during Liberia’s civil war, 1989-2003. I show that the rebel National Patriotic Front of Liberia (NPFL) provided enough security for civilians to maintain farming at pre-war levels, while other rebel groups triggered significant declines in food...

We assess the degree of persistence in armed conflict in particular places over the last two centuries, asking in addition if conflict-ridden places have durable features – social, demographic or geographical – that explain persistence, or whether armed conflict at one time has a causal effect on propensity for armed conflict at later times....

Recent years have seen the United States embroiled in major counterinsurgency campaigns in Afghanistan and Iraq. These campaigns, of course, are only the latest in a string of such conflicts that have erupted since the end of World War II. Sharply debated at home and abroad, they raise the fundamental question of what the United States can...

Effective transnational policies regarding nuclear disarmament, climate change, and human rights are more often generated and adhered to by democracies rather than non-democracies, but electoral fraud in developing countries threatens their democratic foundations. Every year, the international community spends millions of dollars on election...

What explains why some terrorist groups attack civilian targets frequently while others do so only very rarely? While civilians are a particularly appealing target because they are easy to attack, many groups go to great lengths to avoid them. In this paper I examine what targets groups are likely to attack given the government from which they...

This paper provides evidence that the Neolithic Revolution, during which humans adopted agriculture for the first time, may have affected modern institutions by influencing the spread of early institutions. Using novel vegetation data and carbon dates that show the initial agricultural adoption from various Neolithic archaeological sites, as...

This paper investigates long term influence of the Neolithic Revolution, an important historical event during which humans adopted agriculture for the first time, on the current regional cultural differences. A series of arguments presented in the paper claims that the advent of agriculture and subsequent migration of agriculturalists likely...