Publicness of goods and violent conflict : evidence from Colombia
How the degree of publicness of goods affect violent conflict? Based on the theoretical model in Esteban and Ray (2001) we find that the effect of the degree of publicness depends on the group size. When the group is small (large), the degree of publicness increases (decreases) the likelihood of conflict. This opens an empirical question that we tackle using microdata from the Colombian conflict at the municipality level. We use three goods with different publicness degree to identify the sign of the effect of publicness on conflict. These goods are coca crops (private good), road density (public good subject to congestion) and average education quality (a purer public good). After dealing with endogeneity issues using an IV approach, we find that the degree of publicness reduces the likelihood of both paramilitary and guerrilla attacks. Moreover, coca production exacerbates conflict and the provision of both public goods mitigates conflict. These results are robust to size, geographical, and welfare controls. Policies that improve public goods provision will help to fight the onset of conflict.
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