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Do Working Men Rebel? Insurgency and Unemployment in Iraq and the Philippines

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  • Eli Berman
  • Michael Callen
  • Joseph H. Felter
  • Jacob N. Shapiro

Abstract

Most aid spending by governments seeking to rebuild social and political order is based on an opportunity-cost theory of distracting potential recruits. The logic is that gainfully employed young men are less likely to participate in political violence, implying a positive correlation between unemployment and violence in locations with active insurgencies. We test that prediction in Afghanistan, Iraq and the Philippines, using survey data on unemployment and two newly-available measures of insurgency: (1) attacks against government and allied forces; and (2) violence that kills civilians. Contrary to the opportunity-cost theory, the data emphatically reject a positive correlation between unemployment and attacks against government and allied forces (p

Suggested Citation

  • Eli Berman & Michael Callen & Joseph H. Felter & Jacob N. Shapiro, 2009. "Do Working Men Rebel? Insurgency and Unemployment in Iraq and the Philippines," NBER Working Papers 15547, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:15547
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Raphael, Steven & Winter-Ember, Rudolf, 2001. "Identifying the Effect of Unemployment on Crime," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 44(1), pages 259-283, April.
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    3. Gary S. Becker, 1974. "Crime and Punishment: An Economic Approach," NBER Chapters, in: Essays in the Economics of Crime and Punishment, pages 1-54, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    4. Eli Berman & Jacob N. Shapiro & Joseph H. Felter, 2011. "Can Hearts and Minds Be Bought? The Economics of Counterinsurgency in Iraq," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 119(4), pages 766-819.
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    Cited by:

    1. Benjamin Tkach, 2019. "Private military and security companies, contract structure, market competition, and violence in Iraq," Conflict Management and Peace Science, Peace Science Society (International), vol. 36(3), pages 291-311, May.
    2. Timothy Allen Carter & Daniel Jay Veale, 2013. "Weather, terrain and warfare: Coalition fatalities in Afghanistan," Conflict Management and Peace Science, Peace Science Society (International), vol. 30(3), pages 220-239, July.
    3. Andrew Beath & Fotini Christia & Ruben Enikolopov, 2011. "Winning Hearts and Minds through Development Aid: Evidence from a Field Experiment in Afghanistan," Working Papers w0166, New Economic School (NES).
    4. Miaari, Sami & Zussman, Asaf & Zussman, Noam, 2014. "Employment restrictions and political violence in the Israeli–Palestinian conflict," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 101(C), pages 24-44.
    5. Ismail, Aisha & Amjad, Shehla, 2014. "Determinants of terrorism in Pakistan: An empirical investigation," Economic Modelling, Elsevier, vol. 37(C), pages 320-331.

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    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • F51 - International Economics - - International Relations, National Security, and International Political Economy - - - International Conflicts; Negotiations; Sanctions
    • F52 - International Economics - - International Relations, National Security, and International Political Economy - - - National Security; Economic Nationalism
    • H4 - Public Economics - - Publicly Provided Goods
    • H56 - Public Economics - - National Government Expenditures and Related Policies - - - National Security and War
    • J6 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Mobility, Unemployment, Vacancies, and Immigrant Workers
    • O12 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Microeconomic Analyses of Economic Development
    • O53 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economywide Country Studies - - - Asia including Middle East

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