Abstract

https://ssrn.com/abstract=2835185
 


 



The Perils of Top-Down State Building: Evidence from Colombia's False Positives


Daron Acemoglu


Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) - Department of Economics; Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR); National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

Leopoldo Fergusson


Universidad de los Andes, Colombia - Department of Economics

James A. Robinson


University of Chicago - Irving B. Harris Graduate School of Public Policy Studies

Dario Romero


Inter-American Development Bank (IDB)

Juan F. Vargas


Universidad del Rosario - Faculty of Economics

August 29, 2016

MIT Department of Economics Working Paper No. 16-07

Abstract:     
How should a state which lacks the monopoly of violence go about acquiring it? We investigate the use of high-powered incentives for members of the Colombian army as part of a strategy to combat left-wing guerillas and build the state's monopoly of violence. We show that this top-down state-building effort produced several perverse side effects. Innocent civilians were killed and misrepresented as guerillas (a phenomenon known in Colombia as 'false positives'). Exploiting the fact that Colombian colonels have stronger career concerns and should be more responsive to such incentives, we show that there were significantly more false positives during the period of high-powered incentives in municipalities where a higher share of brigades were commanded by colonels and in those where checks coming from civilian judicial institutions were weaker. We further find that in municipalities with a higher share of colonels, the period of high-powered incentives coincided with a worsening of local judicial institutions and the security situation, with more frequent attacks not just by the guerillas but also by paramilitaries.


Number of Pages in PDF File: 74

Keywords: High-powered incentives, military, monopoly of violence, state capacity, conflict

JEL Classification: D02, D82, D73, D74, K42


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Date posted: September 6, 2016  

Suggested Citation

Acemoglu, Daron and Fergusson, Leopoldo and Robinson, James A. and Romero, Dario and Vargas, Juan F., The Perils of Top-Down State Building: Evidence from Colombia's False Positives (August 29, 2016). MIT Department of Economics Working Paper No. 16-07. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2835185

Contact Information

Daron Acemoglu (Contact Author)
Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) - Department of Economics ( email )
50 Memorial Drive
Room E52-380b
Cambridge, MA 02142
United States
617-253-1927 (Phone)
617-253-1330 (Fax)
Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR)
77 Bastwick Street
London, EC1V 3PZ
United Kingdom
National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)
1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States
Leopoldo Fergusson
Universidad de los Andes, Colombia - Department of Economics ( email )
Carrera 1a No. 18A-10
Santafe de Bogota, AA4976
Colombia
HOME PAGE: http://www.googlesyndicatedsearch.com/u/uniandes?q=Leopoldo+Fergusson

James A. Robinson
University of Chicago - Irving B. Harris Graduate School of Public Policy Studies ( email )
1155 East 60th Street
Chicago, IL 60637
United States
Dario Romero
Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) ( email )
1300 New York Avenue NW
Washington, DC 20577
United States

Juan F. Vargas
Universidad del Rosario - Faculty of Economics ( email )
Casa Pedro Fermín
Calle 14 # 4-69
Bogota
Colombia
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