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Insurgency and Credible Commitment in Autocracies and Democracies

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  • Philip Keefer

Abstract

The inability of political actors to make credible promises to broad segments of society--a previously unexplored determinant of civil war--causes both elected and unelected governments to pursue public policies that leave citizens worse off and more prone to revolt. Noncredible political actors are also less able to build counterinsurgency capacity. Popular dissatisfaction with rulers reduces the costs to counterinsurgents of overthrowing regimes, discouraging rulers from building counterinsurgency capacity in the first place; lack of credibility prevents rulers from writing contracts with counterinsurgents that maximize counterinsurgency effort. Empirical tests across numerous subsamples using various measures of political credibility support the conclusion that broad political credibility ranks at least as high as social fractionalization and natural resource rents as a cause of conflict. Copyright The Author 2008. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development / the world bank . All rights reserved. For permissions, please e-mail: journals.permissions@oxfordjournals.org, Oxford University Press.

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Bibliographic Info

Article provided by World Bank Group in its journal The World Bank Economic Review.

Volume (Year): 22 (2008)
Issue (Month): 1 (January)
Pages: 33-61

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Handle: RePEc:oup:wbecrv:v:22:y:2008:i:1:p:33-61

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  1. Halvor Mehlum & Karl Moene & Ragnar Torvik, 2002. "Institutions and the resource curse," GE, Growth, Math methods 0210004, EconWPA.
  2. Beck, T.H.L. & Clarke, G. & Groff, A. & Keefer , P. & Walsh, P., 2001. "New tools in comparative political economy: The database of political institutions," Open Access publications from Tilburg University urn:nbn:nl:ui:12-3125517, Tilburg University.
  3. Garfinkel, M.R. & Skaperdas, S., 2000. "Conflict without Misperceptions or Incomplete Information: how the Future Matters," Papers 99-00-11, California Irvine - School of Social Sciences.
  4. Joan-Maria Esteban & Debraj Ray, 1991. "On the Measurement of Polarization," Boston University - Institute for Economic Development 18, Boston University, Institute for Economic Development.
  5. Robinson, James A. & Torvik, Ragnar & Verdier, Thierry, 2006. "Political foundations of the resource curse," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 79(2), pages 447-468, April.
  6. Beck, Thorsten & Clarke, George & Groff, Alberto & Keefer, Philip & Walsh, Patrick, 2000. "New tools and new tests in comparative political economy - the database of political institutions," Policy Research Working Paper Series 2283, The World Bank.
  7. Keefer, Philip & Knack, Stephen, 2000. "Polarization, politics, and property rights : links between inequality and growth," Policy Research Working Paper Series 2418, The World Bank.
  8. North, Douglass C. & Weingast, Barry R., 1989. "Constitutions and Commitment: The Evolution of Institutions Governing Public Choice in Seventeenth-Century England," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 49(04), pages 803-832, December.
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Cited by:
  1. Thomas Flores & Irfan Nooruddin, 2009. "Financing the peace: Evaluating World Bank post-conflict assistance programs," The Review of International Organizations, Springer, vol. 4(1), pages 1-27, March.
  2. Elbadawi, Ibrahim & Milante, Gary & Pischedda, Costantino, 2008. "Referendum, response, and consequences for Sudan : the game between juba and khartoum," Policy Research Working Paper Series 4684, The World Bank.
  3. Bodea, Cristina, 2012. "Natural resources, weak states and civil war : can rents stabilize coup prone regimes ?," Policy Research Working Paper Series 6071, The World Bank.
  4. Tim Wegenast, 2010. "Inclusive Institutions and the Onset of Internal Conflict in Resource-rich Countries," GIGA Working Paper Series 126, GIGA German Institute of Global and Area Studies.
  5. Matteo Cervellati & Sunde, Uwe, 2011. "Democratization, Violent Social Conflicts, and Growth," Economics Working Paper Series 1114, University of St. Gallen, School of Economics and Political Science.

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