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Military empowerment and civilian targeting in civil war

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  • Juan F Vargas

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Abstract

Civilians constitute a large share of casualties in civil wars across the world. They are targeted to create fear and punish allegiance with the enemy. This maximizes collaboration with the perpetrator and strengthens the support network necessary to consolidate control over contested regions. I develop a model of the magnitude and structure of civilian killings in civil wars involving two armed groups who ght over territorial control. Armies secure compliance through a combination of carrots and sticks. In turn, civilians di¤er from each other in their intrinsic preference towards one group. I explore the e¤ect of the empowerment of one of the groups in the civilian death toll. There are two e¤ects that go in opposite directions. While a direct e¤ect makes the powerful group more lethal, there is an indirect e¤ect by which the number of civilians who align with that group increases, leaving less enemy supporters to kill. I study the conditions under which there is one dominant e¤ect and illustrate the predictions using sub-national longitudinal data for Colombia's civil war.

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  • Juan F Vargas, 2009. "Military empowerment and civilian targeting in civil war," DOCUMENTOS DE TRABAJO 005282, UNIVERSIDAD DEL ROSARIO.
  • Handle: RePEc:col:000092:005282
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Mario Chacon & James A. Robinson & Ragnar Torvik, 2006. "When is Democracy an Equilibrium?: Theory and Evidence from Colombia's "La Violencia"," NBER Working Papers 12789, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    2. Assar Lindbeck & Jörgen Weibull, 1987. "Balanced-budget redistribution as the outcome of political competition," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 52(3), pages 273-297, January.
    3. Ahmed Mahmud & Juan Vargas, 2011. "Combatant recruitment and the outcome of war," Economics of Governance, Springer, vol. 12(1), pages 51-74, March.
    4. Kristine Eck & Lisa Hultman, 2007. "One-Sided Violence Against Civilians in War," Journal of Peace Research, Peace Research Institute Oslo, vol. 44(2), pages 233-246, March.
    5. Jorge Restrepo & Michael Spagat & Juan Vargas, 2004. "The Dynamics of the Columbian Civil Conflict: A New Dataset," Homo Oeconomicus, Institute of SocioEconomics, vol. 21, pages 396-429.
    6. Jean-Paul Azam & Anke Hoeffler, 2002. "Violence Against Civilians in Civil Wars: Looting or Terror?," Journal of Peace Research, Peace Research Institute Oslo, vol. 39(4), pages 461-485, July.
    7. Wintrobe,Ronald, 1998. "The Political Economy of Dictatorship," Cambridge Books, Cambridge University Press, number 9780521583299, May.
    8. James D. Fearon, 2004. "Why Do Some Civil Wars Last So Much Longer than Others?," Journal of Peace Research, Peace Research Institute Oslo, vol. 41(3), pages 275-301, May.
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    Cited by:

    1. Leopoldo Fergussony Dario Romeroz Juan F. Vargas, 2013. "The environmental impact of civil conflict The deforestation effect of paramilitary expansion in Colombia," Working Papers 201359, Latin American and Caribbean Environmental Economics Program, revised Dec 2013.
    2. Juan F. Vargas, 2012. "The persistent Colombian conflict: subnational analysis of the duration of violence," Defence and Peace Economics, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 23(2), pages 203-223, April.
    3. Ben Oppenheim & Juan F. Vargas & Michael Weintraub, 2011. "Learning how (not) to fire a gun: combatant training and civilian victimization," DOCUMENTOS DE TRABAJO 009168, UNIVERSIDAD DEL ROSARIO.
    4. Blanco Mariana & Vargas Juan F., 2014. "Can SMS Technology Improve Low Take-up of Social Benefits?," Peace Economics, Peace Science, and Public Policy, De Gruyter, vol. 20(1), pages 61-81, January.
    5. Ahmed Mahmud & Juan Vargas, 2011. "Combatant recruitment and the outcome of war," Economics of Governance, Springer, vol. 12(1), pages 51-74, March.

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