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

  • Giacomo De Luca


  • Petros G. Sekeris


  • Juan F. Vargas


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.

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Paper provided by UNIVERSIDAD DEL ROSARIO in its series DOCUMENTOS DE TRABAJO with number 008893.

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Length: 37
Date of creation: 09 Aug 2011
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:col:000092:008893
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  1. Petros Sekeris, 2011. "Endogenous elites: power structure and patron-client relationships," Economics of Governance, Springer, vol. 12(3), pages 237-258, September.
  2. Francesco Caselli & Wilbur John Coleman II, 2006. "On the Theory of Ethnic Conflict," NBER Working Papers 12125, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  3. Olsson, Ola, 2003. "Conflict Diamonds," Working Papers in Economics 86, University of Gothenburg, Department of Economics, revised 30 Nov 2003.
  4. Joan Esteban & Massimo Morelli & Dominic Rohner, 2010. "Strategic Mass Killings," HiCN Working Papers 78, Households in Conflict Network.
  5. Robert K. Fleck & Christopher Kilby, 2009. "Changing Aid Regimes? U.S. Foreign Aid from the Cold War to the War on Terror," Villanova School of Business Department of Economics and Statistics Working Paper Series 1, Villanova School of Business Department of Economics and Statistics.
  6. 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.
  7. Lorenzo Rocco & Zié Ballo, 2008. "Provoking a civil war," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 134(3), pages 347-366, March.
  8. Anne Boschini & Anders Olofsg�rd, 2007. "Foreign aid: An instrument for fighting communism?," Journal of Development Studies, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 43(4), pages 622-648.
  9. Roland Hodler, 2004. "The Curse of Natural Resources in Fractionalized Countries," Diskussionsschriften dp0404, Universitaet Bern, Departement Volkswirtschaft.
  10. repec:oup:restud:v:75:y:2008:i:4:p:987-1009 is not listed on IDEAS
  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. De Luca, Giacomo & Sekeris, Petros, 2009. "Land Inequality and Conflict Intensity," Proceedings of the German Development Economics Conference, Frankfurt a.M. 2009 5, Verein für Socialpolitik, Research Committee Development Economics.
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