Juan Fernando Vargas

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How do income shocks a¤ect armed con ‡ict? Theory suggests two opposite e¤ects. If labor is used to appropriate resources violently, higher wages may lower con ‡ict by reducing labor supplied to appropriation. This is the opportunity cost e¤ect. Alternatively, a rise in contestable income may increase violence by raising gains from appropriation. This is(More)
The lowest level of government in sub-Saharan Africa is often a cadre of chiefs who raise taxes, control the judicial system and allocate the most important scarce resource—land. Chiefs, empowered by colonial indirect rule, are often accused of using their power despotically and inhibiting rural development. Yet others view them as traditional(More)
This paper explores how commodity price shocks in the international market a¤ect armed con ‡ict. We posit that di¤erent types of income shocks in ‡uence con ‡ict through di¤erent channels: an increase in the price of labor-intensive commodities reduces con ‡ict by raising the opportunity cost of joining armed rebellion, while a rise in the price of(More)
We use the colonial organization of chieftaincy in Sierra Leone to study the effect of constraints on chiefs' power on economic outcomes, citizens' attitudes and social capital. A paramount chief must come from one of the ruling families originally recognized by British colonial authorities. Chiefs face fewer constraints and less political competition in(More)
We develop a model where some politicians have an edge in undertaking a task and this gives them electoral advantage, creating an incentive to underperform in the task. We test the empirical implications in the context of fighting against insurgents, using Colombian data. The main prediction is that large defeats for the insurgents reduce the probability(More)
This paper proposes a specific mechanism to explain differences in political institutions based on the asymmetric and uncertain costs of civil conflicts. Asymmetry implies that the net benefit of fighting an insurgency is not shared equally by members of the elite. But uncertainty implies that these benefits are more evenly distributed ex-ante. The members(More)
We propose a model in which an autocrat, who rules over an ethnically divided society, selects the tax rate over domestic production and the nation's natural resources to maximize his rents under the threat of a regime-switching revolution. We show that a weak ruler may let the country plunge in civil war to increase his personal rents. Indeed inter-group(More)
We thank Dario Romero for excellent research assistance and Daron Acemoglu, Torberg Falch, María Teresa Ronderos and Bjarne Strøm for their comments and suggestions. We are grateful to seminar participants at Berkeley, Georgetown, Universidad de los Andes, Universidad del Rosario, the World Bank Office of the Chief Economist for Latin America and the(More)
The growing empirical literature on the analysis of civil war has recently included the study of conflict duration at the crosscountry level. This paper presents, for the first time, a within-country analysis of the determinants of violence duration. I focus on the experience of the Colombian armed conflict. While the conflict has been active for about five(More)