Erin Troland

University of California
San Diego Department of Economics
9500 Gilman Drive #0508
La Jolla, CA 92093-0508

E-Mail: EmailAddress: hidden: you can email any NBER-related person as first underscore last at nber dot org
Institutional Affiliation: Treasury

NBER Working Papers and Publications

August 2013Predation, Taxation, Investment and Violence: Evidence from the Philippines
with Eli Berman, Joseph Felter, Ethan Kapstein: w19266
This paper explores the relationship between investment and political violence through several possible mechanisms. Investment as a predictor of future violence implies that low private sector investment today provides a robust indicator of high violence tomorrow. "Rent-capture" or predation asserts that investment increases violence by motivating extortion by insurgents. A "hearts and minds" approach links investment to political violence in two possible ways: through an opportunity cost mechanism by which improved economic conditions raise the cost of rebel recruitment; and through a psychological "gratitude" effect which reduces cooperation of noncombatants with rebels. Finally, tax capture implies that government will increase coercive enforcement in an attempt to control areas where i...
February 2013Modest, Secure and Informed: Successful Development in Conflict Zones
with Eli Berman, Joseph Felter, Jacob N. Shapiro: w18674
Most interpretations of prevalent counterinsurgency theory imply that increasing government services will reduce rebel violence. Empirically, however, development programs and economic activity sometimes yield increased violence. Using new panel data on development spending in Iraq, we show that violence reducing effects of aid are greater when (a) projects are small, (b) troop strength is high, and (c) professional development expertise is available. These findings are consistent with a "hearts and minds" model, which predicts that violence reduction will result when projects are secure, valued by community members, and implementation is conditional on the behavior of non-combatants.

Published: Eli Berman & Joseph H. Felter & Jacob N. Shapiro & Erin Troland, 2013. "Modest, Secure, and Informed: Successful Development in Conflict Zones," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 103(3), pages 512-17, May. citation courtesy of

September 2012Predation, Taxation, Investment, and Violence: Evidence from the Philippines
with Eli Berman, Joseph Felter, Ethan Kapstein: w18375
The literature relating economic activity to political violence posits greedy rebels (Collier, 2000) but not greedy governments. Could capturing tax revenue motivate governments to step up their counter insurgency operations, just as extortion motivates rebel violence? Panel data on political violence in the Philippines distinguish government from rebel attacks, which we link to private investment across 70 provinces. To formally explore these data we expand an established theory of asymmetric substate conflict –the “information-centric” model, adding firms, investment, taxation and predation (i.e., extortionary violence by rebels in response to investment) to the interplay of government, rebels and civilians, generating testable implications. The data show that increases in investment pre...
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