Political Devolution and Resistance to Foreign Rule: A Natural Experiment

48 Pages Posted: 29 Jan 2014 Last revised: 11 Feb 2014

Date Written: February 1, 2014


Do foreign occupiers face less resistance when they increase the level of native governing authority? Although this is a central question within the literature on foreign occupation and insurgency, it is difficult to answer because the relationship between resistance and political devolution is typically endogenous. To address this issue, we identify a natural experiment based on the locally arbitrary assignment of French municipalities into German or Vichy-governed zones during World War Two. Using a regression discontinuity design, we conclude that devolving governing authority signicantly lowered levels of resistance. We argue that this effect is driven by a process of political cooptation: domestic groups that were granted governing authority were less likely to engage in resistance activity, while violent resistance was heightened in regions dominated by groups excluded from the governing regime. This finding stands in contrast to work that primarily emphasizes structural factors or nationalist motivations for resistance.

Keywords: insurgency, occupation, resistance, natural experiment

Suggested Citation

Ferwerda, Jeremy and Miller, Nicholas, Political Devolution and Resistance to Foreign Rule: A Natural Experiment (February 1, 2014). MIT Political Science Department Research Paper No. 2014-1, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2379098 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2379098

Jeremy Ferwerda (Contact Author)

Dartmouth College ( email )

Department of Sociology
Hanover, NH 03755
United States

Nicholas Miller

Brown University ( email )

Box 1860
Providence, RI 02912
United States

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