Raúl Sánchez de la Sierra, Soeren J. Henn, Christian Mastaki Mugaruka, Miguel Ortiz, David Qihang Wu

On the Ends of the State: Stationary Bandits and the Time Horizon in Eastern Congo

We show that armed actors refrain from arbitrarily stealing from an economy if, and only if, their property rights over stealing are secure over a long time horizon. By 2009, bandits taxed, administered, and protected various remote villages in Democratic Republic of the Congo. We exploit the timing and targeting of an international military operation that made regular theft from these villages, such as taxation, permanently impossible. Following the operation, the same bandits turned to violently expropriating these villages. The findings suggest that the security of property rights over stealing, the stealing time horizon, can sustain, or destroy, economic growth.

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