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Can Hearts and Minds Be Bought? The Economics of Counterinsurgency in Iraq

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  • Eli Berman
  • Jacob N. Shapiro
  • Joseph H. Felter

Abstract

We develop and test an economic theory of insurgency motivated by the informal literature and by recent military doctrine. We model a three-way contest between violent rebels, a government seeking to minimize violence by mixing service provision and coercion, and civilians deciding whether to share information about insurgents. We test the model using panel data from Iraq on violence against Coalition and Iraqi forces, reconstruction spending, and community characteristics (sectarian status, socio-economic grievances, and natural resource endowments). Our results support the theory‘s predictions: improved service provision reduces insurgent violence, particularly for smaller projects and since the "surge" began in 2007.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 14606.

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Date of creation: Dec 2008
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Publication status: published as Eli Berman & Jacob N. Shapiro & Joseph H. Felter, 2011. "Can Hearts and Minds Be Bought? The Economics of Counterinsurgency in Iraq," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 119(4), pages 766 - 819.
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:14606

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  1. Eli Berman & David D. Laitin, 2008. "Religion, Terrorism and Public Goods: Testing the Club Model," NBER Working Papers 13725, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. Collier, Paul & Hoeffler, Anke, 2000. "Greed and grievance in civil war," Policy Research Working Paper Series 2355, The World Bank.
  3. Eli Berman & Laurence R. Iannaccone, 2005. "Religious Extremism: The Good, The Bad, and The Deadly," NBER Working Papers 11663, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  4. Ross, Michael L., 2004. "How Do Natural Resources Influence Civil War? Evidence from Thirteen Cases," International Organization, Cambridge University Press, vol. 58(01), pages 35-67, February.
  5. Eli Berman, 2003. "Hamas, Taliban and the Jewish Underground: An Economist's View of Radical Religious Militias," NBER Working Papers 10004, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  6. Powell, Robert, 2006. "War as a Commitment Problem," International Organization, Cambridge University Press, vol. 60(01), pages 169-203, January.
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Cited by:
  1. David Scoones & Travers Barclay Child, 2012. "Community Preferences, Insurgency, and the Success of Reconstruction Spending," Department Discussion Papers 1202, Department of Economics, University of Victoria.
  2. 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).
  3. Eli Berman & Michael Callen & Joseph H. Felter & Jacob N. Shapiro, 2009. "Do Working Men Rebel? Insurgency and Unemployment in Iraq and the Philippines," NBER Working Papers 15547, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  4. Ismail, Aisha & Amjad, Shehla, 2014. "Determinants of terrorism in Pakistan: An empirical investigation," Economic Modelling, Elsevier, vol. 37(C), pages 320-331.
  5. Beath, Andrew & Christia, Fotini & Enikolopov, Ruben, 2013. "The National Solidarity Programme: Assessing the effects of community-driven development in Afghanistan," Working Paper Series UNU-WIDER Research Paper , World Institute for Development Economic Research (UNU-WIDER).
  6. Hannes Mueller & Dominic Rohner & David Schoenholzer, 2013. "Tectonic Boundaries and Strongholds: The Religious Geography of Violence in Northern Ireland," Cahiers de Recherches Economiques du Département d'Econométrie et d'Economie politique (DEEP) 13.04, Université de Lausanne, Faculté des HEC, DEEP.
  7. 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.
  8. 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.
  9. Christopher Blattman & Edward Miguel, 2009. "Civil War: A Review of Fifty Years of Research," Working Papers id:2231, eSocialSciences.
  10. Eli Berman & Joseph Felter & Ethan Kapstein & Erin Troland, 2013. "Predation, Taxation, Investment and Violence: Evidence from the Philippines," NBER Working Papers 19266, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  11. Hannes Mueller, 2014. "Growth and Violence: Argument for a Per Capita Measure of Civil War," Working Papers 756, Barcelona Graduate School of Economics.
  12. Berkok Ugurhan G., 2013. "Shape and Consequences of Military Missions: An Introduction," Peace Economics, Peace Science, and Public Policy, De Gruyter, vol. 19(1), pages 1-7, April.
  13. Sami Miaari & Asaf Zussman & Noam Zussman, 2012. "Employment Restrictions and Political Violence in the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict," Economics of Security Working Paper Series 59, DIW Berlin, German Institute for Economic Research.
  14. 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.
  15. Saurabh Singhal & Rahul Nilakantan, 2012. "Naxalite Insurgency and the Economic Benefits of a Unique Robust Security Response," HiCN Working Papers 127, Households in Conflict Network.
  16. Caruso Raul & Klor Esteban F., 2012. "Political Economy Studies on the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict: Introduction," Peace Economics, Peace Science, and Public Policy, De Gruyter, vol. 18(2), pages 1-10, August.
  17. Colin Jennings, 2012. "Rationalising ‘'Irrational'' Support for Political Violence," Working Papers 1212, University of Strathclyde Business School, Department of Economics.
  18. Radha Iyengar, 2010. "The Impact of Asymmetric Information Among Competing Insurgent Groups: Estimating an 'Emboldenment' Effect," CEP Discussion Papers dp1018, Centre for Economic Performance, LSE.

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