What's in a Line? Natural Experiments and the Line of Demarcation in WWII Occupied France

54 Pages Posted: 27 Jan 2015 Last revised: 6 Aug 2015

See all articles by Matthew Adam Kocher

Matthew Adam Kocher

Yale University - Department of Political Science

Nuno P. Monteiro

Yale University

Date Written: July 31, 2015

Abstract

In “Political Devolution and Resistance to Foreign Rule,” Ferwerda and Miller (FM) use a natural experiment during WWII France to argue that devolution of authority to local elites mitigates resistance to foreign rule. We dispute FM’s claims on four levels. First, the Line of Demarcation dividing France was delineated with the goal of keeping strategic railways under direct German control, invalidating FM’s natural experiment research design. Second, the higher level of resistance they observe in directly occupied France results from the Resistance’s efforts to target these strategic railways. Third, FM’s argument is not supported by the overall pattern of resistance in metropolitan France between 1940-44. Finally, FM’s data is unsuitable for testing theories connecting the location of an attack with its perpetrators’ precise geographic origins. These problems lead us to argue for the epistemic priority of treatment-assignment causal process observations over balance checks on pretreatment covariates when validating natural experiments.

Keywords: occupation, resistance, natural experiments, World War II

JEL Classification: C99, N44

Suggested Citation

Kocher, Matthew Adam and Monteiro, Nuno P., What's in a Line? Natural Experiments and the Line of Demarcation in WWII Occupied France (July 31, 2015). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2555716 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2555716

Matthew Adam Kocher (Contact Author)

Yale University - Department of Political Science ( email )

Box 208269
New Haven, DC 06520-8269
United States

Nuno P. Monteiro

Yale University ( email )

New Haven, CT 06520
United States

HOME PAGE: http://www.nunomonteiro.org

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