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

Eli Berman (), Michael Callen, Joseph H. Felter and Jacob N. Shapiro

Journal of Conflict Resolution, 2011, vol. 55, issue 4, 496-528

Abstract: 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. The authors 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 kill civilians. Contrary to the opportunity-cost theory, the data emphatically reject a positive correlation between unemployment and attacks against government and allied forces ( p

Keywords: Insurgency; opportunity costs; rebel recruitment; unemployment (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2011
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