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Strategic Mass Killings

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  • Joan Esteban
  • Massimo Morelli
  • Dominic Rohner

Abstract

Since World War II there have been about fifty episodes of large-scale mass killings of civilians and massive forced displacements. They were usually meticulously planned and independent of military goals. We provide a model where conflict onset, conflict intensity and the decision to commit mass killings are all endogenous, with two main goals: (1) to identify the key variables and situations that make mass killings more likely to occur; and (2) to distinguish conditions under which mass killings and military conflict intensity reinforce each other from situations where they are substitute modes of strategic violence. We predict that mass killings are most likely in societies with large natural resources, significant proportionality constraints for rent sharing, low productivity and low state capacity. Further, massacres are more likely in a civil than in an interstate war, as in the latter group sizes matter less for future rents. In non polarized societies there are asymmetric equilibria with only the larger group wanting to engage in massacres. In such settings the smaller group compensates for this by fighting harder in the first place. In this case we can talk of mass killings and fighting efforts to be substitutes. In contrast, in polarized societies either both or none of the groups can be ready to do mass killings in case of victory. Under the "shadow of mass killings" groups fight harder. Hence, in this case massacres and fighting are complements. We also present novel empirical results on the role of natural resources in mass killings and on what kinds of ethnic groups are most likely to be victimized in massacres and forced resettlements, using group level panel data.

Suggested Citation

  • Joan Esteban & Massimo Morelli & Dominic Rohner, 2010. "Strategic Mass Killings," UFAE and IAE Working Papers 826.10, Unitat de Fonaments de l'Anàlisi Econòmica (UAB) and Institut d'Anàlisi Econòmica (CSIC).
  • Handle: RePEc:aub:autbar:826.10
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    1. Minority protection and mass killings
      by Economic Logician in Economic Logic on 2010-06-21 19:57:00

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    Cited by:

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    3. Francesco Caselli & Massimo Morelli & Dominic Rohner, 2015. "The Geography of Interstate Resource Wars," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 130(1), pages 267-315.
    4. Dickson, Alex & MacKenzie, Ian A. & Sekeris, Petros G., 2018. "Rent-seeking incentives in share contests," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 166(C), pages 53-62.
    5. Petros G. Sekeris, 2014. "The tragedy of the commons in a violent world," RAND Journal of Economics, RAND Corporation, vol. 45(3), pages 521-532, September.
    6. Joan Esteban & Sabine Flamand & Massimo Morelli & Dominic Rohner, 2018. "A Dynamic Theory of Secession," CESifo Working Paper Series 7257, CESifo.
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    8. Morelli, Massimo & Rohner, Dominic, 2015. "Resource concentration and civil wars," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 117(C), pages 32-47.
    9. Thiemo Fetzer & Pedro C. L. Souza & Oliver Vanden Eynde & Austin L. Wright, 2021. "Security Transitions," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 111(7), pages 2275-2308, July.
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    11. Nicolas Berman & Mathieu Couttenier & Dominic Rohner & Mathias Thoenig, 2017. "This Mine Is Mine! How Minerals Fuel Conflicts in Africa," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 107(6), pages 1564-1610, June.
    12. Dominic Rohner, 2018. "Success Factors for Peace Treaties: A Review of Theory and Evidence," Cahiers de Recherches Economiques du Département d'économie 18.08, Université de Lausanne, Faculté des HEC, Département d’économie.
    13. Sonin, Konstantin & Wilson, Jarnickae & Wright, Austin, 2018. "Rebel Capacity, Intelligence Gathering, and the Timing of Combat Operations," CEPR Discussion Papers 13155, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    14. Kimbrough, Erik O. & Laughren, Kevin & Sheremeta, Roman, 2020. "War and conflict in economics: Theories, applications, and recent trends," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 178(C), pages 998-1013.
    15. Maleke Fourati & Victoire Girard & Jeremy Laurent-Lucchetti, 2021. "Sexual violence as a weapon of war," NOVAFRICA Working Paper Series wp2103, Universidade Nova de Lisboa, Nova School of Business and Economics, NOVAFRICA.
    16. Massimo Morelli & Dominic Rohner, 2010. "Natural Resource Distribution and Multiple Forms of Civil War," OxCarre Working Papers 050, Oxford Centre for the Analysis of Resource Rich Economies, University of Oxford.
    17. Francesco Caselli, 2012. "The Geography of Inter-State Resource Wars," 2012 Meeting Papers 1174, Society for Economic Dynamics.
    18. Laia Balcells, 2012. "Violence and displacement. Evidence from the Spanish civil war (1936-1939)," UFAE and IAE Working Papers 896.12, Unitat de Fonaments de l'Anàlisi Econòmica (UAB) and Institut d'Anàlisi Econòmica (CSIC).
    19. Freire, Danilo & Uzonyi, Gary, 2018. "What Drives State-Sponsored Violence?: Evidence from Extreme Bounds Analysis and Ensemble Learning Models," SocArXiv pzx3q, Center for Open Science.
    20. Laia Balcells, 2012. "Violence and Displacement in Civil War. Evidence from the Spanish Civil War (1936-1939)," Working Papers 603, Barcelona Graduate School of Economics.
    21. Mueller, Hannes & Rohner, Dominic & Sch�nholzer, David, 2017. "The Peace Dividend of Distance: Violence as Interaction Across Space," CEPR Discussion Papers 11897, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    22. Camille Laville, 2018. "The econometrical causal analysis of internal conflicts: The evolutions of a growing literature [L’analyse économétrique des conflits internes par l’approche causale : les évolutions d’une littérat," Working Papers hal-01940461, HAL.
    23. Alberto Alesina & Bryony Reich & Alessandro Riboni, 2020. "Nation-building, nationalism, and $$\hbox {wars}^*$$ wars ∗," Journal of Economic Growth, Springer, vol. 25(4), pages 381-430, December.
    24. Andrea Canidio & Joan-Maria Esteban, 2018. "Benevolent Mediation in the Shadow of Conflict," Working Papers 1027, Barcelona Graduate School of Economics.

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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Mass Killings; Civil War; Natural Resources; Intensity of Conflict; Group Size.;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • C72 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Game Theory and Bargaining Theory - - - Noncooperative Games
    • D74 - Microeconomics - - Analysis of Collective Decision-Making - - - Conflict; Conflict Resolution; Alliances; Revolutions

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