Thiemo Fetzer, Stephan Kyburz

Cohesive Institutions and Political Violence

Can institutionalized transfers of resource rents be a source of civil conflict? Are cohesive institutions better in managing distributive conflicts? We study these questions exploiting exogenous variation in revenue disbursements to local governments together with new data on local democratic institutions in Nigeria. We make three contributions. First, we document the existence of a strong link between rents and conflict far away from the location of the actual resource. Second, we show that distributive conflict is highly organized involving political militias and concentrated in the extent to which local governments are non-cohesive. Third, we show that democratic practice in form of having elected local governments significantly weakens the causal link between rents and political violence. We document that elections (vis-a-vis appointments), by producing more cohesive institutions, vastly limit the extent to which distributional conflict between groups breaks out following shocks to the available rents. Throughout, we confirm these findings using individual level survey data.

Download Full Story (PDF)

Syria Conflict Refugees

Syrian women and children travel from areas controlled by jihadists of the Islamic State (IS) group, en route to safety in areas held by by Kurdish-Arab Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) alliance, on November 9, 2016, near the village of Mazraat Khaled, some 40 km away from the Islamic State group's (IS) de-facto capital of Raqa.

DELIL SOULEIMAN/AFP/Getty Images