IDEAS home Printed from
   My bibliography  Save this paper

Unequal power and the dynamics of rivalry




By incorporating positional dynamics into a conflict model relevant to battlefields and politics, we show that the conditions that induce regime stability can also induce hard conflicts. We show that in contests with incumbent-challenger turnover, i) asymmetric power across groups and positions may magnify conflicts; ii) more severe conflicts can occur with lower turnover of incumbents; iii) power can be self-defeating, as cost advantages can reduce payoffs; and iv) double inequality across positions and groups can maximize the graveness of conflicts and the social waste of resources. The propositions in our paper are contrary to the standard implications of static conict models.

Suggested Citation

  • Mehlum, Halvor & Moene, Kalle, 2016. "Unequal power and the dynamics of rivalry," Memorandum 13/2016, Oslo University, Department of Economics.
  • Handle: RePEc:hhs:osloec:2016_013

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL:
    Download Restriction: no

    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Daron Acemoglu & James A. Robinson, 2008. "Persistence of Power, Elites, and Institutions," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 98(1), pages 267-293, March.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)


    Citations are extracted by the CitEc Project, subscribe to its RSS feed for this item.

    Cited by:

    1. Clark, Derek J. & Nilssen, Tore, 2018. "Keep on fighting: The dynamics of head starts in all-pay auctions," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 110(C), pages 258-272.

    More about this item


    Contests; political stability; incumbency advantage; conflict and civil war;

    JEL classification:

    • C73 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Game Theory and Bargaining Theory - - - Stochastic and Dynamic Games; Evolutionary Games
    • D72 - Microeconomics - - Analysis of Collective Decision-Making - - - Political Processes: Rent-seeking, Lobbying, Elections, Legislatures, and Voting Behavior
    • D74 - Microeconomics - - Analysis of Collective Decision-Making - - - Conflict; Conflict Resolution; Alliances; Revolutions

    NEP fields

    This paper has been announced in the following NEP Reports:


    Access and download statistics


    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:hhs:osloec:2016_013. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Mari Strønstad Øverås). General contact details of provider: .

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    If CitEc recognized a reference but did not link an item in RePEc to it, you can help with this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.