Is There an "Emboldenment" Effect? Evidence from the Insurgency in Iraq
AbstractAre insurgents affected by new information about the United States' sensitivity to costs? Using data on attacks and variation in access to international news across Iraqi provinces, we identify an "emboldenment" effect by comparing the rate of insurgent attacks in areas with higher and lower access to information about U.S news after public statements critical of the war. We find that in periods after a spike in war-critical statements, insurgent attacks increases by 7-10 percent, but that this effect dissipates within a month. Additionally, we find that insurgents shift attacks from Iraqi civilian to U.S. military targets following new information about the United States' sensitivity to costs, resulting in more U.S. fatalities but fewer deaths overall. These results suggest that there is a small but measurable cost to open public debate in the form of higher attacks in the short-term, and that Iraqi insurgent organizations - even those motivated by religious or ideological goals - are strategic actors that respond rationally to the expected probability of US withdrawal. However, the implied costs of open, public debate must be weighed against the potential gains. We conclude that to the extent insurgent groups respond rationally to the incentives set by the policies of pro-government forces, effective counterinsurgency should prioritize manipulating costs and inducements, rather than focus simply on search and destroy missions.
Download InfoIf you experience problems downloading a file, check if you have the proper application to view it first. In case of further problems read the IDEAS help page. Note that these files are not on the IDEAS site. Please be patient as the files may be large.
Bibliographic InfoPaper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 13839.
Date of creation: Mar 2008
Date of revision:
Contact details of provider:
Postal: National Bureau of Economic Research, 1050 Massachusetts Avenue Cambridge, MA 02138, U.S.A.
Web page: http://www.nber.org
More information through EDIRC
Find related papers by JEL classification:
- F51 - International Economics - - International Relations and International Political Economy - - - International Conflicts; Negotiations; Sanctions
- J18 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Public Policy
This paper has been announced in the following NEP Reports:
- NEP-ALL-2008-03-15 (All new papers)
Please report citation or reference errors to , or , if you are the registered author of the cited work, log in to your RePEc Author Service profile, click on "citations" and make appropriate adjustments.:
- Isaac Ehrlich, 1996. "Crime, Punishment, and the Market for Offenses," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 10(1), pages 43-67, Winter.
- Nicholas Bloom, 2009.
"The Impact of Uncertainty Shocks,"
Econometric Society, vol. 77(3), pages 623-685, 05.
- Michael Greenstone, 2007. "Is the "Surge" Working? Some New Facts," NBER Working Papers 13458, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
- Radha Iyengar & Jonathan Monten & Matthew Hanson, 2011. "Building Peace: The Impact of Aid on the Labor Market for Insurgents," NBER Working Papers 17297, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
- Christopher Blattman & Edward Miguel, 2009.
NBER Working Papers
14801, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
- Blattman, Christopher & Miguel, Edward, 2009. "Civil War," Center for International and Development Economics Research, Working Paper Series qt90n356hs, Center for International and Development Economics Research, Institute for Business and Economic Research, UC Berkeley.
- Noel Maurer & Lakshmi Iyer, 2008.
"The Cost of Property Rights: Establishing Institutions on the Philippine Frontier Under American Rule, 1898-1918,"
NBER Working Papers
14298, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
- Lakshmi Iyer & Noel Maurer, 2008. "The Cost of Property Rights: Establishing Institutions on the Philippine Frontier Under American Rule, 1898-1918," Harvard Business School Working Papers 09-023, Harvard Business School, revised Apr 2009.
- Lind, Jo Thori & Moene, Karl Ove & Willumsen, Fredrik, 2009.
"Opium for the Masses? Conflict-induced Narcotics Production in Afghanistan,"
05/2009, Oslo University, Department of Economics.
- Jo Thori Lind & Karl Ove Moene & Fredrik Willumsen, 2009. "Opium for the Masses? Conflict-Induced Narcotics Production in Afghanistan," CESifo Working Paper Series 2573, CESifo Group Munich.
- Andrew Beath & Fotini Christia & Ruben Enikolopov, 2011. "Winning Hearts and Minds through Development Aid: Evidence from a Field Experiment in Afghanistan," Working Papers w0166, Center for Economic and Financial Research (CEFIR).
- Christopher Blattman & Edward Miguel, 2009. "Civil War: A Review of Fifty Years of Research," Working Papers id:2231, eSocialSciences.
For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: ().
If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.