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.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Sociology and Political Science