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CEP discussion paper

The Impact of Asymmetric Information Among Competing Insurgent Groups: Estimating an 'Emboldenment' Effect


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.


Radha Iyengar

October 2010     Paper Number CEPDP1018

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This CEP discussion paper is published under the centre's Community Wellbeing programme.