A Theory of Demographically Targeted Repression
44 Pages Posted: 12 Jun 2018 Last revised: 16 Jul 2018
Date Written: May 18, 2018
People from specific ethnic, racial, or other demographic groups are often subjected to harsher repression than others. This phenomenon of demographically targeted repression has been viewed mostly as a consequence of xenophobic prejudices. I provide a rationalist explanation for demographic targeting as an instrumental political strategy. Building on empirical literature, I model an environment where the risk of repression may motivate people to act against the regime to escape repression. In such conditions, demographic targeting allows the regime to differentially allocate the risk of repression across demographic groups and thereby disincentivize joint anti-regime action. The model identifies conditions under which demographic targeting is likely to occur, clarifies how it shapes behaviors of citizens, and provides a parsimonious resolution to outstanding puzzles.
Keywords: Repression, Collective Action, Autocracy, Discrimination
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