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Abstract:

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CEP Discussion Paper
The Impact of Asymmetric Information Among Competing Insurgent Groups: Estimating an 'Emboldenment' Effect
Radha Iyengar
October 2010
Paper No' CEPDP1018:
Full Paper (pdf)

JEL Classification: F51; F52


Tags: iraq war; asymmetric information; media and violence

This paper uses asymmetric access to information to test if an insurgency is factionalized. If it is factionalized, regional variation in information should influence attack levels as groups use violence to compete over visibility, resources and support. Using plausibly exogenous variation in satellite access, we show that attacks increased after the release of information on satellite television about US commitment to remain in Iraq. Because insurgents shift attacks toward more difficult (military) targets, the relative increase in attacks is offset by fewer total fatalities. Our findings illustrate that insurgent groups may be decentralized strategic actors subject to competitive forces.