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On the Origin of the State: Stationary Bandits and Taxation in Eastern Congo

126 Pages Posted: 24 Nov 2013 Last revised: 8 Mar 2017

Raul Sanchez de la Sierra

UC Berkeley (Haas)

Date Written: January 20, 2017

Abstract

I gather panel data on armed actors in 650 locations of Eastern Congo to explain the emergence and trajectories of Tilly (1985)’s “essential functions of the state.” I find that a demand shock for coltan, a bulky commodity, leads armed actors to organize monopolies of violence, tax output, and provide protection at coltan-producing locations. A similar shock for gold, which mine workers can conceal to evade output taxes, does not. In response, instead, armed actors form monopolies of violence in the villages in which gold miners and their families live and spend their income. In these villages, they also raise head taxes, consumption taxes, transit taxes, as well as a fiscal and a legal administration. The emergence of such functions benefits the population, only if the “stationary bandit” performing such functions arises from a popular militia, instead of an external organization.

Suggested Citation

Sanchez de la Sierra, Raul, On the Origin of the State: Stationary Bandits and Taxation in Eastern Congo (January 20, 2017). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2358701 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2358701

Raul Sanchez de la Sierra (Contact Author)

UC Berkeley (Haas) ( email )

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