The Logic of Political Violence


This article offers a unified approach for studying political violence whether it emerges as repression or civil war. We formulate a model where an incumbent or opposition can use violence to maintain or acquire power to study which political and economic factors drive one-sided or two-sided violence (repression or civil war). The model predicts a hierarchy of violence states from peace via repression to civil war; and suggests a natural empirical approach. Exploiting only within-country variation in the data, we show that violence is associated with shocks that can affect wages and aid. As in the theory, these effects are only present where political institutions are noncohesive.


Besley, T.; Persson, T. The Logic of Political Violence. The Quarterly Journal of Economics (2011) 126 (3) 1411-1445. [DOI: 10.1093/qje/qjr025]

The Logic of Political Violence

Published 1 January 2011