Can hearts and minds be bought? the economics of counterinsurgency in Iraq

Eli Berman, Jacob N. Shapiro, Joseph H. Felter

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

264 Scopus citations


We develop and test an economic theory of insurgency motivated by the informal literature and by recent military doctrine. We model a three-way contest between violent rebels, a government seeking to minimize violence by mixing service provision and coercion, and ci-vilians deciding whether to share information about insurgents. We test the model using panel data from Iraq on violence against Coalition and Iraqi forces, reconstruction spending, and community characteristics (sectarian status, socioeconomic grievances, and natural resource endowments). Our results support the theory's predictions: improved service provision reduces insurgent violence, particularly for smaller projects and since the 'surge' began in 2007.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)766-819
Number of pages54
JournalJournal of Political Economy
Issue number4
StatePublished - Aug 1 2011

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Economics and Econometrics


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