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Does Indiscriminate Violence Incite Insurgent Attacks? Evidence from a Natural Experiment

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  • Jason Lyall

    ()
    (Princeton University)

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    Abstract

    Does a state’s use of indiscriminate violence incite insurgent attacks? Nearly all existing theories and empirical studies conclude that such actions only fuel insurgencies by provoking insurgent mobilization. This proposition is tested using a natural experiment that draws on random artillery strikes by Russian forces in Chechnya (2000-05) to estimate the impact of indiscriminate violence on subsequent insurgent violence. A difference-in-difference (DD) estimation method is adopted in which shelled villages are matched with similar non-repressed settlements over identical time periods to estimate treatment effects. The findings are counterintuitive. Shelled villages and their home districts (raiony) exhibit less post-treatment violence than control groups. In addition, commonly-cited “triggers” for insurgent retaliation, including the lethality and duration of indiscriminate violence, are either insignificant or negatively correlated with insurgent attack propensity.

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    Bibliographic Info

    Paper provided by Households in Conflict Network in its series HiCN Working Papers with number 44.

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    Length: 44 pages
    Date of creation: 2008
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    Handle: RePEc:hic:wpaper:44

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    Web page: http://www.hicn.org

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    1. Esther Duflo & Rachel Glennerster & Michael Kremer, 2006. "Using Randomization in Development Economics Research: A Toolkit," NBER Technical Working Papers 0333, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    2. Jean-Paul Azam, 2006. "On thugs and heroes: Why warlords victimize their own civilians," Economics of Governance, Springer, vol. 7(1), pages 53-73, 01.
    3. Collier, Paul & Hoeffler, Anke, 2000. "Greed and grievance in civil war," Policy Research Working Paper Series 2355, The World Bank.
    4. Manski, C.F., 1992. "Identification Problems in the Social Sciences," Working papers 9217, Wisconsin Madison - Social Systems.
    5. Ben B. Hansen, 2004. "Full Matching in an Observational Study of Coaching for the SAT," Journal of the American Statistical Association, American Statistical Association, vol. 99, pages 609-618, January.
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