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The Monopoly Of Violence: Evidence From Colombia

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  • Daron Acemoglu
  • James A. Robinson
  • Rafael J. Santos

Abstract

Many states in Latin America, Africa and Asia lack the monopoly of violence, identified by Max Weber as the foundation of the state, and thus the capacity to govern effectively. In this paper we develop a new perspective on the establishment of the monopoly of violence and the formation of the state. We build a model to explain the incentive of central states to eliminate non-state armed actors (paramilitaries) in a democracy. The model is premised on the idea that paramilitaries may choose to and can influence elections. Since paramilitaries have preferences over policies, this reduces the incentives of the politicians they favor to eliminate them. The model also shows that while in non-paramilitary areas policies are targeted at citizens, in paramilitary controlled areas they are targeted at paramilitaries. We then investigate the predictions of our model using data from Colombia between 1991 and 2006. We first present regression and case study evidence supporting our postulate that paramilitary groups can have significant effects on elections for the legislature and the executive. Next, we show that the evidence is also broadly consistent with the implication of the model that paramilitaries tend to persist to the extent that they deliver votes to candidates for the executive whose preferences are close to theirs and that this effect is larger in areas where the Presidential candidate would have otherwise not done as well. These results illustrate that, consistent with our model, there appears to be a symbiotic relationship between some executives and paramilitaries. Finally, we use roll-call votes to illustrate a possible ‘quid pro quo’ between the executive and paramilitaries in Colombia.

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Bibliographic Info

Article provided by European Economic Association in its journal Journal of the European Economic Association.

Volume (Year): 11 (2013)
Issue (Month): (01)
Pages: 5-44

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Handle: RePEc:bla:jeurec:v:11:y:2013:i::p:5-44

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References

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  1. Jorge Restrepo & Michael Spagat & Juan Vargas, 2004. "The Dynamics of the Colombian Civil Conflict: A New Data Set," Royal Holloway, University of London: Discussion Papers in Economics 04/10, Department of Economics, Royal Holloway University of London, revised Jul 2004.
  2. Daron Acemoglu & Davide Ticchi & Andrea Vindigni, 2009. "Persistence of Civil Wars," EIEF Working Papers Series 0910, Einaudi Institute for Economics and Finance (EIEF), revised Sep 2009.
  3. Timothy Besley & Torsten Persson, 2009. "The Origins of State Capacity: Property Rights, Taxation, and Politics," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 99(4), pages 1218-44, September.
  4. Daron Acemoglu & Davide Ticchi & Andrea Vindigni, 2011. "Emergence And Persistence Of Inefficient States," Journal of the European Economic Association, European Economic Association, vol. 9(2), pages 177-208, 04.
  5. Assar Lindbeck & Jörgen Weibull, 1987. "Balanced-budget redistribution as the outcome of political competition," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 52(3), pages 273-297, January.
  6. Fabio Sánchez & María del Mar Palau, 2006. "Conflict, Decentralisation and Local Governance in Colombia, 1974-2004," HiCN Working Papers 14, Households in Conflict Network.
  7. Isaías N. Chaves & Leopoldo Fergusson & James A. Robinson, 2009. "He Who Counts Elects: Determinants of Fraud in the 1922 Colombian Presidential Election," NBER Working Papers 15127, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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Cited by:
  1. Daron Acemoglu & Suresh Naidu & Pascual Restrepo & James A. Robinson, 2013. "Democracy, Redistribution and Inequality," NBER Working Papers 19746, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. Daron Acemoglu & Isaías N. Chaves & Philip Osafo-Kwaako & James A. Robinson, 2014. "Indirect Rule and State Weakness in Africa: Sierra Leone in Comparative Perspective," NBER Chapters, in: African Successes: Sustainable Growth National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  3. Cortés Darwin & Montolio Daniel, 2014. "Provision of Public Goods and Violent Conflict: Evidence from Colombia," Peace Economics, Peace Science, and Public Policy, De Gruyter, vol. 20(1), pages 143-167, January.
  4. Oeindrila Dube & Suresh Naidu, 2014. "Bases, Bullets and Ballots: the Effect of U.S. Military Aid on Political Conflict in Colombia," NBER Working Papers 20213, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  5. Giuseppe De Feo & Giacomo De Luca, 2013. "Mafia in the ballot box," Working Papers 1325, University of Strathclyde Business School, Department of Economics.
  6. Paolo Pinotti, 2012. "The economic costs of organized crime: evidence from southern Italy," Temi di discussione (Economic working papers) 868, Bank of Italy, Economic Research and International Relations Area.
  7. Darwin Cortes & Daniel Montolio, 2013. "Publicness of goods and violent conflict: Evidence from Colombia," DOCUMENTOS DE TRABAJO 010725, UNIVERSIDAD DEL ROSARIO.
  8. Bellemare, Marc F. & Moser, Christine M., 2012. "State and Power in Rural Africa: Evidence from Madagascar," 2012 Annual Meeting, August 12-14, 2012, Seattle, Washington 124986, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association.
  9. Baland, Jean-Marie & Robinson, James A, 2011. "The Political Value of Land: Democratization and Land Prices in Chile," CEPR Discussion Papers 8296, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  10. Qiang Chen & Yijiang Wang & Chun-lei Yang, 2014. "Taxation under Autocracy: Theory and Evidence from Late Imperial China," SDU Working Papers 2014-03, School of Economics, Shandong University.

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