Droughts, land appropriation, and rebel violence in the developing world

Benjamin E. Bagozzi, Ore Koren, Bumba Mukherjee

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

29 Scopus citations


Scholars note that rebel atrocities against civilians often arise within rural areas in the developing world. This characterization is not far-fetched, and recent data show that rebel atrocities do predominately occur within rural agricultural regions. Yet the frequency of such incidents also varies substantially across different agricultural regions and years. What accounts for this observed variation in rebel-perpetrated atrocities against civilians within agricultural areas in developing countries? We develop a formal model to address this question, which contends that severe droughts can decrease food availability, prompting civilians to allocate food for immediate consumption and become increasingly willing to defend their diminishing supplies against rebels. This leads rebels to preempt the civilians' defensive efforts by committing atrocities, which forcibly separate civilians from their lands and food stockpiles. In empirically testing this hypothesis at the subnational level across the developing world, we find robust support for our game-Theoretic model's predictions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1057-1072
Number of pages16
JournalJournal of Politics
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jul 2017

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Sociology and Political Science


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