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Beyond divide and rule: weak dictators, natural resources and civil conflict

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  • Giacomo De Luca

    ()

  • Petros G. Sekeris

    ()

  • Juan F. Vargas

    ()

Abstract

We propose a model where an autocrat rules over an ethnically divided society. The dictator selects the tax rate over domestic production and the nation's natural resources to maximize his rents under the threat of a regime-switching revolution. We show that a weak ruler may let the country plunge in civil war to increase his personal rents. Inter-group fighting weakens potential opposition to the ruler, thereby allowing him to increase fiscal pressure. We show that the presence of natural resources exacerbatesthe incentives of the ruler to promote civil conflict for his own profit, especially if the resources are unequally distributed across ethnic groups. We validate the main predictions of the model using cross-country data over the period 1960-2007, and show that our empirical results are not likely to be driven by omitted observable determinants of civil war incidence or by unobservable country-specific heterogeneity.

Suggested Citation

  • Giacomo De Luca & Petros G. Sekeris & Juan F. Vargas, 2011. "Beyond divide and rule: weak dictators, natural resources and civil conflict," DOCUMENTOS DE TRABAJO 008893, UNIVERSIDAD DEL ROSARIO.
  • Handle: RePEc:col:000092:008893
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    File URL: http://repository.urosario.edu.co/bitstream/handle/10336/10903/8893.pdf
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Georgy Egorov & Konstantin Sonin, 2011. "Dictators And Their Viziers: Endogenizing The Loyalty–Competence Trade‐Off," Journal of the European Economic Association, European Economic Association, vol. 9(5), pages 903-930, October.
    2. Joan Esteban & Massimo Morelli & Dominic Rohner, 2015. "Strategic Mass Killings," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 123(5), pages 1087-1132.
    3. Petros Sekeris, 2011. "Endogenous elites: power structure and patron-client relationships," Economics of Governance, Springer, vol. 12(3), pages 237-258, September.
    4. Francesco Caselli & Wilbur John Coleman II, 2013. "On The Theory Of Ethnic Conflict," Journal of the European Economic Association, European Economic Association, vol. 11, pages 161-192, January.
    5. Daron Acemoglu & Georgy Egorov & Konstantin Sonin, 2008. "Coalition Formation in Non-Democracies," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 75(4), pages 987-1009.
    6. Olsson, Ola, 2007. "Conflict diamonds," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 82(2), pages 267-286, March.
    7. Hodler, Roland, 2006. "The curse of natural resources in fractionalized countries," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 50(6), pages 1367-1386, August.
    8. Fleck, Robert K. & Kilby, Christopher, 2010. "Changing aid regimes? U.S. foreign aid from the Cold War to the War on Terror," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 91(2), pages 185-197, March.
    9. Giacomo Luca & Petros Sekeris, 2012. "Land inequality and conflict intensity," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 150(1), pages 119-135, January.
    10. Lorenzo Rocco & Zié Ballo, 2008. "Provoking a civil war," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 134(3), pages 347-366, March.
    11. Fearon, James D. & Laitin, David D., 2000. "Violence and the Social Construction of Ethnic Identity," International Organization, Cambridge University Press, vol. 54(04), pages 845-877, September.
    12. Anne Boschini & Anders Olofsgård, 2007. "Foreign aid: An instrument for fighting communism?," Journal of Development Studies, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 43(4), pages 622-648.
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    Cited by:

    1. Auriol, Emmanuelle & Platteau, Jean-Philippe, 2017. "Religious co-option in autocracy: A theory inspired by history," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 127(C), pages 395-412.
    2. Auriol, Emmanuelle & Platteau, Jean-Philippe, 2016. "Religious Seduction in Autocracy: A Theory Inspired by History," CEPR Discussion Papers 11258, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.

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