Violence, access, and competition in the market for protection
We conduct a laboratory experiment to examine the performance of a market for protection. As the central feature of our treatment comparisons, we vary the access that “peasants” have to violence-empowered “elites”. The focus of the experiment is to observe how elites enforce and operate their protective services to peasants, and to observe the degree to which elites engage in wealth-destroying violence in competition amongst each other for wealth-generating peasants. We find that greater access to peasants strikingly increases violence among the elites, but with limited access the elites markedly extract more tribute from the peasants. Our findings are particularly relevant to the discussion of violence in developing countries.
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