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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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File URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10.1111/j.1542-4774.2012.01099.x
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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. 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.
  2. Restrepo, Jorge & Spagat, Michael & Vargas, Juan F, 2003. "The Dynamics of the Colombian Civil Conflict: A New Data Set," CEPR Discussion Papers 4108, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  3. Acemoglu, Daron & Ticchi, Davide & Vindigni, Andrea, 2009. "Persistence of Civil Wars," Papers 09-06-2009, Princeton University, Research Program in Political Economy.
  4. Timothy Besley & Torsten Persson, 2007. "The Origins of State Capacity: Property Rights, Taxation, and Politics," NBER Working Papers 13028, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  5. Fabio Sánchez & María del Mar Palau, 2006. "Conflict, Decentralisation and Local Governance in Colombia, 1974-2004," HiCN Working Papers 14, Households in Conflict Network.
  6. Assar Lindbeck & Jörgen Weibull, 1987. "Balanced-budget redistribution as the outcome of political competition," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 52(3), pages 273-297, January.
  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 & 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.
  2. 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.
  3. De Feo, Giuseppe & De Luca, Giacomo, 2013. "Mafia in the ballot box," SIRE Discussion Papers 2013-104, Scottish Institute for Research in Economics (SIRE).
  4. 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.
  5. Darwin Cortes & Daniel Montolio, 2013. "Publicness of goods and violent conflict: Evidence from Colombia," DOCUMENTOS DE TRABAJO 010725, UNIVERSIDAD DEL ROSARIO.
  6. Paolo Pinotti, 2012. "The Economic Costs of Organized Crime: Evidence from Southern Italy," Working Papers 054, "Carlo F. Dondena" Centre for Research on Social Dynamics (DONDENA), Università Commerciale Luigi Bocconi.
  7. 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.
  8. Daron Acemoglu & Suresh Naidu & Pascual Restrepo & James A. Robinson, 2013. "Democracy, Redistribution and Inequality," NBER Working Papers 19746, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.

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