Rebel Tactics

Economic Shocks and Rebel Tactics

Rebel tactics vary significantly within insurgencies. I argue the local technologies of rebellion are constrained by three factors: rebel capacity, outside options, and state strength. I test the argument with microdata on rebel violence in Colombia and exploit plausibly random shocks to local income. I find evidence that economic shocks substantially affect rebel tactics. When rebel capacity increases, insurgents favor conventional tactics. Alternatively, when state strength increases and outside options improve, rebels favor irregular tactics. These results are robust to accounting for numerous potential sources of bias, including atmospheric dispersion of illicit crop herbicides, and violence spillovers from drug trafficking.

The latest version of this paper is available for download here.

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