Capital Cities, Conflict, and Misgovernance

Capital Cities, Conflict, and Misgovernance (2019)
with Quoc-Anh Do and Bernardo Guimaraes. American Economic Journal: Applied Economics 11(3): 298-337, July 2019 [Online Article] [PDF]

We investigate the links between capital cities, conflict, and the quality of governance, starting from the assumption that incumbent elites are constrained by the threat of insurrection, and that the latter is rendered less effective by distance from the seat of political power. We show evidence that (i) conflict is more likely to emerge (and dislodge incumbents) closer to the capital, and (ii) isolated capitals are associated with misgovernance. The results hold only for relatively nondemocratic countries and for intrastate conflicts over government (as opposed to territory)—exactly the cases where our central assumption should apply. (JEL D72, D74, O17, O18, R12)

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