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Combatant recruitment and the outcome of war

  • Ahmed Saber Mahmud

    ()

  • Juan F. Vargas

    ()

Why do some civil wars terminate soon, with victory of one party over theother? What determines if the winner is the incumbent or the rebel group?Why do other conflicts last longer? We propose a simple model in whichthe power of each armed group depends on the number of combatants itis able to recruit. This is in turn a function of the relative 'distance' between group leaderships and potential recruits. We emphasize the moralhazard problem of recruitment: fighting is costly and risky so combatantshave the incentive to defect from their task. They can also desert alto-gether and join the enemy. This incentive is stronger the farther away thefighter is from the principal, since monitoring becomes increasingly costly.Bigger armies have more power but less monitoring capacity to preventdefection and desertion. This general framework allows a variety of interpretations of what type of proximity matters for building strong cohesivearmies ranging from ethnic distance to geographic dispersion. Di¤erentassumptions about the distribution of potential fighters along the relevantdimension of conflict lead to di¤erent equilibria. We characterize these,discuss the implied outcome in terms of who wins the war, and illustratewith historical and contemporaneous case studies.

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Paper provided by UNIVERSIDAD DEL ROSARIO in its series DOCUMENTOS DE TRABAJO with number 005029.

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Length: 26
Date of creation: 23 Sep 2008
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Handle: RePEc:col:000092:005029
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  1. Shapiro, Carl & Stiglitz, Joseph E, 1984. "Equilibrium Unemployment as a Worker Discipline Device," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 74(3), pages 433-44, June.
  2. Jose Montalvo & Marta Reynal-Querol, 2010. "Ethnic polarization and the duration of civil wars," Economics of Governance, Springer, vol. 11(2), pages 123-143, April.
  3. Juan F Vargas, 2009. "Military empowerment and civilian targeting in civil war," DOCUMENTOS DE TRABAJO 005282, UNIVERSIDAD DEL ROSARIO.
  4. Oeindrila Dube & Juan F. Vargas, 2006. "Are All Resources Cursed? Coffee, Oil and Armed Confict in Colombia," DOCUMENTOS DE CERAC 002024, CERAC -CENTRO DE RECURSOS PARA EL ANÁLISIS DE CONFLICTOS-.
  5. Stergios Skaperdas, 2007. "An Economic Approach to Analyzing Civil War," Working Papers 060715, University of California-Irvine, Department of Economics.
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  8. Esteban, Joan & Ray, Debraj, 1994. "On the Measurement of Polarization," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 62(4), pages 819-51, July.
  9. Paul Collier & Anke Hoeffler, 2004. "Greed and Grievance in Civil War," Development and Comp Systems 0409007, EconWPA.
  10. MacLeod, W Bentley & Malcomson, James M, 1989. "Implicit Contracts, Incentive Compatibility, and Involuntary Unemployment," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 57(2), pages 447-80, March.
  11. Bernd Beber & Christopher Blattman, 2010. "The Industrial Organization of Rebellion: The Logic of Forced Labor and Child Soldiering," HiCN Working Papers 72, Households in Conflict Network.
  12. Fearon, James D., 1995. "Rationalist explanations for war," International Organization, Cambridge University Press, vol. 49(03), pages 379-414, June.
  13. Grossman, Herschel I, 1991. "A General Equilibrium Model of Insurrections," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 81(4), pages 912-21, September.
  14. Montalvo, Jose G. & Reynal-Querol, Marta, 2007. "Ethnic polarization and the duration of civil wars," Policy Research Working Paper Series 4192, The World Bank.
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