Isis and Conflict

Paper Session

Sunday, Jan. 8, 2017 10:15 AM – 12:15 PM

Swissotel Chicago, St Gallen 3
Hosted By: Peace Science Society International & American Economic Association
  • Chair: Carlos Seiglie, Rutgers University-Newark

The Real Winner’s Curse

Leopoldo Fergusson
,
University of Los Andes
Pablo Querubin
,
New York University
Nelson A. Ruiz-Guarin
,
London School of Economics and Political Science
Juan F. Vargas
,
Del Rosario University and CAF-Development Bank of Latin America

Abstract

We study the unintended consequences of political inclusion in a context of weak institutions. Using a regression discontinuity approach, we show that the narrow election of previously excluded leftist parties to local executive office in Colombia results in an almost one-standard-deviation increase in violent attacks by right-wing paramilitaries, more than tripling the sample mean. We interpret this surge in violence as a de facto reaction of traditional political and economic elites, who seek to offset the increase in outsiders’ de jure political power. Consistent with this interpretation, we find that other types of violence are unaffected, and that levels of violence are not influenced by the victory of right-wing parties in close elections. Moreover, we show that the surge in paramilitary violence is concentrated in the year of the next election, which gives left-wing parties a large incumbency disadvantage in Colombia. Our findings highlight the dangers of broadening political inclusion in the absence of efforts to strengthen other institutional dimensions. Open elections that are not complemented by checks and balances to prevent the disproportional accumulation of political power by some groups in society may have unintended negative consequences.

The Strategy and Technology of Conflict

Sandeep Baliga
,
Northwestern University
Tomas Sjostrom
,
Rutgers University

Abstract

We consider a simple bargaining model where conflict occurs if the
players cannot agree to share a resource peacefully. Each player can
decide to challenge the status quo. A challenge is a strategic move:
the challenger commits to start a conflict unless the opponent concedes
some part of his endowment. Uncertainty about the opponent's cost of
making a challenge generates a unique equilibrium. Increasing the cost
of conflict makes the players more hawkish, because challenges become
more profitable: the opponent will make larger concessions to avoid a
conflict. Actions are strategic substitutes if the cost of conflict is large
or if there is a small first-mover advantage, and strategic complements
if the cost of conflict is small and there is a large first-mover advantage.
We also study the incentives to make strategic investments ex ante
to influence the cost of conflict or the payoff to resources.

Population and Civil War

Daron Acemoglu
,
Massachusetts Institute of Technology and NBER
Leopoldo Fergusson
,
University of Los Andes
Simon Johnson
,
Massachusetts Institute of Technology and NBER

Abstract

Medical and public health innovations in the 1940s quickly resulted in significant health improvements around the world. Countries with initially higher mortality from infectious disease experienced greater increases in life expectancy, population, and – over the following 40 years – social conflict. This result is robust across alternative measures of conflict and is not driven by differential trends between countries with varying baseline characteristics. At least during this time period, a faster increase in population made social conflict more likely, probably because it increased competition for scarce resources in low income countries.

How Much Oil Is Daesh Producing? Evidence from Remote Sensing

Quy-Toan Do
,
World Bank
Jacob N. Shapiro
,
Princeton University
Christopher D. Elvidge
,
NOAA National Centers for Environmental Information
Mohamed Abdel-Jelil
,
World Bank
Kimberly Baugh
,
University of Colorado
Jamie Hansen-Lewis
,
Brown University
Mikhail Zhizhin
,
University of Colorado

Abstract

Many terrorist organizations and insurgencies such as Daesh -- also known as ISIL/ISIS-- tap oil as a revenue source. Accurately measuring oil production may assist efforts to address such threats by providing a tool for assessing their long-run economic potential, and may inform reconstruction strategies in conflict-affected areas. Estimates from news media and other agencies are inherently imprecise given the limited samples they draw on. We use satellite multi-spectral imaging and ground-truth pre-war output data to effectively construct a real-time census of oil production in Daesh-controlled areas. We estimate a production that peaked at 33,000 barrels per day in July 2014, which then fell to a 2015 average of 19,000 barrels per day.
Discussant(s)
Phanindra V. Wunnava
,
Middlebury College
Solomon W. Polachek
,
Binghamton University
Andreas Pape
,
Binghamton University
Luis Locay
,
University of Miami
JEL Classifications
  • F5 - International Relations, National Security, and International Political Economy