Political violence, state instability, and poverty

Paul Mosley

in The Politics of Poverty Reduction

Published in print March 2012 | ISBN: 9780199692125
Published online May 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780191739286 | DOI:
Political violence, state instability, and poverty

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From the previous chapter, conflict in this chapter is related to trust: specifically to the trust of the non-elite group (the ‘people’) in the fairness of the allocation of resources between themselves and the elite, to ‘military centrality’ or provocation by government; and to the level of unemployment and poverty. This chapter explores this idea in two steps. First it explains the level of ‘riot-type violence’ – that is violence which falls short of the standard definition of 1,000 civilian deaths per annum, and thence the escalation of riot-type conflict, in some places, into full-scale civil war. It shows, with the help of both panel data and case studies especially of Bolivia and Indonesia, that both riot-type violence and its growth into civil war can be restrained through policies and institutions which promote trust. This can be done by sending signals of trustworthiness – for example in the sense of more equitable public expenditure, more equitable taxation or forums capable of defusing latent social conflicts. The chapter interprets such policies as social efficiency wage policies – just as in the efficiency-wage policies of labour economics, a wage above the equilibrium level can increase stability in the labour force, so in this context, judicious increases in the social wage can make the political system more stable and less fragile.

Keywords: political violence; riot-type violence; fairness; justice; Bolivia; Indonesia; social efficiency wage

Chapter.  6470 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Economic Development and Growth

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