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State Capacity and Violence: Evidence from the Rwandan genocide

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  • Leander Heldring

Abstract

Exploiting local variation in state capacity within Rwanda I investigate the link between state capacity and violence. Using a disaggregated measure of the intensity of the 1994 Rwandan genocide, I establish that greater local state capacity led to greater conflict intensity. I proxy modern state capacity with its precolonial counterpart, measured by the total time a district was incorporated in the precolonial kingdom. This ‘duration of incorporation’ measures the cumulative effect of the centralizing forces in the kingdom and acts as a proxy for state capacity. Since the kingdom expanded through conquest and consolidated through patronage relations revolving around cattle, I instrument the duration of incorporation with the geographical suitability for cattle. This strategy confirms the main result. State capacity, while usually associated with greater public good provision and higher GDP, played a central role in the mass killings in Rwanda.

Suggested Citation

  • Leander Heldring, 2014. "State Capacity and Violence: Evidence from the Rwandan genocide," CSAE Working Paper Series 2014-08, Centre for the Study of African Economies, University of Oxford.
  • Handle: RePEc:csa:wpaper:2014-08
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    Cited by:

    1. Bonnier, Evelina & Poulsen, Jonas & Rogall, Thorsten & Stryjan, Miri, 2015. "Preparing for Genocide: Community Work in Rwanda," Working Paper Series 2015:1, Uppsala University, Department of Economics.
    2. Cornelius Christian & James Fenske, 2015. "Economic shocks and unrest in French West Africa," CSAE Working Paper Series 2015-01, Centre for the Study of African Economies, University of Oxford.
    3. Guariso, Andrea & Verpoorten, Marijke, 2015. "Aid, Trad and Post-War Recovery of the Rwandan Coffee Sector," 2015 Conference, August 9-14, 2015, Milan, Italy 211693, International Association of Agricultural Economists.
    4. Bonnier, Evelina & Poulsen, Jonas & Rogall, Thorsten & Stryjan, Miri, 2015. "Preparing for Genocide: Quasi-Experimental Evidence from Rwanda," SITE Working Paper Series 31, Stockholm School of Economics, Stockholm Institute of Transition Economics, revised 10 Nov 2016.
    5. Mark Dincecco & James Fenske & Massimiliano Gaetano Onorato, 2014. "Is Africa Different? Historical Conflict and State Development," CSAE Working Paper Series 2014-35, Centre for the Study of African Economies, University of Oxford.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    State capacity; violence; Rwanda;

    JEL classification:

    • O10 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - General
    • A10 - General Economics and Teaching - - General Economics - - - General
    • N4 - Economic History - - Government, War, Law, International Relations, and Regulation

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