Type of Document Dissertation Author Young, Joseph URN etd-07062008-221330 Title Repression, Dissent, and the Onset of Civil War: States, Dissidents, and the Production of Violent Conflict Degree Doctor of Philosophy Department Political Science, Department of Advisory Committee
Advisor Name Title Will H. Moore Committee Chair Dale L. Smith Committee Member Jason Barabas Committee Member William Berry Committee Member Keywords
- Political Violence
- International Relations
- Civil War
Date of Defense 2008-06-23 Availability unrestricted AbstractThe prevailing wisdom among scholars of civil war is that weak states, or resource-poor states, are the most prone to this form of political violence. Yet, a large portion of resource poor states never experience civil war. What can account for why resource-poor states, like El Salvador, are prone to civil war while resource-poor states, such as Bhutan, are not?
I offer a theory of civil war onset that explains how dissidents and states interact to produce civil war. This theory moves beyond structural explanations and explains how the choices of
states and dissidents jointly produce violence. From the theory, I derive the expectation that states that repress their citizens are the most likely to kill citizens and to generate dissident
violence. In short, the resolution to the puzzle is: State leaders from resource-poor states, who choose to repress, are the most likely to generate violence that exceeds the civil war
threshold. This insight not only resolves an academic puzzle but when tested provides a model with better in-sample prediction of civil war than previous models.
After explicating the theory and discussing concepts, I empirically evaluate the hypotheses implied by these arguments using a large cross-national dataset including a global sample
from 1975 to 1999. I utilize structural equation modeling as well as two-stage procedures to estimate the direct and indirect effects of variables outlined in the theory. Using a novel approach to reducing bias in my data, time-dependent propensity score matching, I isolate the causal effects of repression on a state’s likelihood of experiencing civil war. I then extend the insights of the model to other forms of political violence including interstate conflict and insurgency and offer hypotheses relating to current debates over counterinsurgency policy and the relationship between state making and interstate war.
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