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The risk of civil conflicts as a determinant of political institutions

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  • Aguirre, Alvaro

Abstract

This paper proposes a mechanism to explain differences in political institutions based on a particular feature of civil conflicts that has not been previously explored. Under asymmetric and uncertain costs of civil conflicts members of the elite would like to commit in advance to a strong response to insurgencies, but ex-post they have the incentives to block any response if the conflict mainly affects other members of the elite. One way of solving this commitment problem is empowering the executive so he may react forcefully to conflicts, despite the opposition of some fraction of the elite. The main prediction is that, conditional on asymmetric and uncertain costs, the higher is the likelihood of a conflict in the future, the lower are the constraints imposed on the executive. The paper validates this implication using a sample of former colonies and geographic variables to identify the exogenous component of the likelihood of conflicts.

Suggested Citation

  • Aguirre, Alvaro, 2016. "The risk of civil conflicts as a determinant of political institutions," European Journal of Political Economy, Elsevier, vol. 42(C), pages 36-59.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:poleco:v:42:y:2016:i:c:p:36-59
    DOI: 10.1016/j.ejpoleco.2016.01.002
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    1. repec:eee:poleco:v:53:y:2018:i:c:p:205-221 is not listed on IDEAS
    2. De Luca, Giacomo & Sekeris, Petros G. & Vargas, Juan F., 2018. "Beyond divide and rule: Weak dictators, natural resources and civil conflict," European Journal of Political Economy, Elsevier, vol. 53(C), pages 205-221.
    3. Aidt, Toke S. & Albornoz, Facundo & Gassebner, Martin, 2018. "The golden hello and political transitions," Journal of Comparative Economics, Elsevier, vol. 46(1), pages 157-173.
    4. Álvaro Aguirre, 2013. "Rebellions, Technical Change, and the Early Development of Political Institutions in Latin America," Working Papers Central Bank of Chile 688, Central Bank of Chile.
    5. Singhal, Saurabh & Nilakantan, Rahul, 2016. "The economic effects of a counterinsurgency policy in India: A synthetic control analysis," European Journal of Political Economy, Elsevier, vol. 45(C), pages 1-17.
    6. Karakas, Leyla D., 2016. "Political turnover and the accumulation of democratic capital," European Journal of Political Economy, Elsevier, vol. 44(C), pages 195-213.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Institutions; Civil conflict;

    JEL classification:

    • D72 - Microeconomics - - Analysis of Collective Decision-Making - - - Political Processes: Rent-seeking, Lobbying, Elections, Legislatures, and Voting Behavior
    • D74 - Microeconomics - - Analysis of Collective Decision-Making - - - Conflict; Conflict Resolution; Alliances; Revolutions
    • O17 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Formal and Informal Sectors; Shadow Economy; Institutional Arrangements

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