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

Listed author(s):
  • Eli Berman
  • Michael Callen
  • Joseph H. Felter
  • Jacob N. Shapiro

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

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File URL: http://www.nber.org/papers/w15547.pdf
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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 15547.

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Date of creation: Nov 2009
Publication status: published as “Do Working Men Rebel? Unemployment and Insurgency in Afghanistan, Iraq, and the Philippines.” (with Jacob Shapiro, Joseph Felter and Michael Callen), Journal of Conflict Resolution , August 2011 vol. 55 no. 4 496-528.
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:15547
Note: LS POL
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