Contests & Conflict | 08/03/2022 | 06:00 PM
Forces of Darkness: The Strategic Dynamics of Territorial Control and Resource Allocation during Civil War

Speaker: Scott Gates

Date & Time: Los Angeles (9 am), Cincinnati (12 pm), Bath (5 pm), Munich (6 pm), Beijing (August 4, 12 am), Singapore (August 4, 12 am), Sydney (August 4, 2 am)

Scott Gates will present the paper titled "Forces of Darkness: The Strategic Dynamics of Territorial Control and Resource Allocation during Civil War" (joint work with Siri Aas Rustad, and Christopher Butler).

Abstract of the Paper:
This paper examines resource allocation and the strategic dynamics of intrastate armed conflict. One of the primary findings from Contest Success Function models of armed conflict is the ‘Paradox of Power’ (Hirshleifer, 2001). Essentially, in an asymmetric contest the weaker power will devote disproportionate resources to fighting. Drawing on the contest success function technology, we develop a model of asymmetric conflict. From this model we derive a set of propositions regarding resource allocation on the part of the belligerents. We test our theory and apply our analysis to Islamic State controlled territory in Iraq and Syria. We test our propositions statistically, utilizing satellite data on light emissions and fine-grained conflict event data (using PRIO-GRID). To assess the allocation of resources in a civil war, we employ a quasi-experimental design. Given the non-random nature of ISIS attacks and territorial control, we use Coarsened Exact Matching. This non-parametric data pre-processing method matches PRIO-GRID quarter-cells into two groups, those controlled by Islamic State (the treated group) and those not controlled by ISIS (the experimental control group). Matching allows us to control for the potentially confounding influence of pre-treatment control variables. Fixed effect OLS estimation using the Coarsened Exact Matching data supports our hypotheses. Territories controlled by ISIS emit less light, indicating that resources are being disproportionately distributed to fighting effort rather than for economic productivity. Our analysis provides new insights into the strategic behavior of rebel groups with implications for theory and policy.

Chair: Kai A. Konrad, Co-Chair: Subhasish Chowdhury 

Contact Person

Event Team

Max-Planck-Institut für Steuerrecht und Öffentliche Finanzen

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80539 München

Phone: +49-89-24246-5255
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