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Manchester Grand Hyatt, Harbor D
Association for Comparative Economic Studies
The Demand for the State: Evidence from Past and Present
Friday, Jan. 3, 2020 8:00 AM - 10:00 AM (PDT)
- Chair: Noam Yuchtman, London School of Economics and Political Science
Why Do People Join Armed Groups? Evidence of Parochial Altruism in Eastern Congo
AbstractCriminal organizations rely on their ability to recruit labor. Fighters often take life-threatening risks and commit murder once they join. Why do people join armed groups? We gather a retrospective survey data set for 1,539 individuals in 239 villages in Eastern Congo and provide empirical evidence for the formation of a specific type of intrinsic motivation: individuals are more likely to take arms in militia when their household has been attacked by enemy armed groups. This effect is concentrated during security vacuum episodes induced by high-level military deployments and stronger when attacks are related to humiliation. We further provide evidence that this effect is not driven by wealth channel or protection channel. Despite the fact that participation leads to more wealth and lower likelihood of being attacked, controlling for current wealth proxies or insecurity proxies does not affect the main coefficients. Our results thus suggest fighters engage in life-threatening activities out of parochial altruism instead of extrinsic benefits of participation.
Institutional Adaptation to Environmental Change
AbstractIn this paper we show that states form to overcome the adverse effects of environmental change. In a panel dataset of settlement, state formation, and public good provision in southern Iraq between 5000BCE and today, we estimate the effect of a series of river shifts. We hypothesize that a river shift creates a collective action problem in communally organizing irrigation, and creates demand for a state. We show four main results. First, a river shift negatively affects settlement density, and therefore incentives canal irrigation. Second, a river shift leads to state formation, centralization of existing states, and the construction of administrative buildings. Third, these states raise taxes, and build canals to replace river irrigation. Finally, where canals are built, river shifts no longer negatively affect settlement. Our results support a social contract theory of state formation: citizens faced with a collective action problem exchange resources and autonomy for public good provision.
University of California-San Diego
- H1 - Structure and Scope of Government