Can Hearts and Minds Be Bought? The Economics of Counterinsurgency in Iraq

69 Pages Posted: 2 Jan 2009 Last revised: 1 Jan 2010

Eli Berman

University of California, San Diego (UCSD) - Department of Economics; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

Jacob N. Shapiro

Princeton University - Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs; Princeton University - Department of Political Science

Joseph Felter

Stanford University

Date Written: December 2008

Abstract

We develop and test an economic theory of insurgency motivated by the informal literature and by recent military doctrine. We model a three-way contest between violent rebels, a government seeking to minimize violence by mixing service provision and coercion, and civilians deciding whether to share information about insurgents. We test the model using panel data from Iraq on violence against Coalition and Iraqi forces, reconstruction spending, and community characteristics (sectarian status, socio-economic grievances, and natural resource endowments). Our results support the theory's predictions: improved service provision reduces insurgent violence, particularly for smaller projects and since the "surge" began in 2007.

Suggested Citation

Berman, Eli and Shapiro, Jacob N. and Felter, Joseph, Can Hearts and Minds Be Bought? The Economics of Counterinsurgency in Iraq (December 2008). NBER Working Paper No. w14606. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1322178

Eli Berman (Contact Author)

University of California, San Diego (UCSD) - Department of Economics ( email )

9500 Gilman Drive
La Jolla, CA 92093-0508
United States
858-534-2858 (Phone)
858-534-7040 (Fax)

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

Jacob N. Shapiro

Princeton University - Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs ( email )

Princeton University
Princeton, NJ 08544-1021
United States

Princeton University - Department of Political Science ( email )

Corwin Hall
Princeton, NJ 08544-1013
United States

Joseph Felter

Stanford University ( email )

Stanford, CA 94305-6010
United States

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