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Can wars breed nationalism? We argue that civilians’ indirect exposure to war fatalities can trigger psychological processes that increase identification with their nation and ultimately strengthen support for nationalist parties. We test this argument in the context of the rise of the Nazi Party after World War 1 (WW1). To measure localized war exposure, we machine-coded information on 7.5 million German soldiers who were wounded or died in WW1. Our empirical strategy leverages battlefield dynamics that cause plausibly exogenous variation in the county-level casualty fatality rate—the share of dead soldiers among all casualties. We find that throughout the interwar period, electoral support for right-wing nationalist parties, including the Nazi Party, was 2.6 percentage points higher in counties with above-median casualty fatality rates. Consistent with our proposed mechanism, we find that this effect was driven by civilians rather than veterans and areas with a preexisting tradition of collective war commemoration.
Dictators depend on a committed bureaucracy to implement their policy preferences. But how do they induce loyalty and effort within their civil service? The authors study indoctrination through forced military service as a cost-effective strategy for achieving this goal. Conscription allows the regime to expose recruits, including future civil servants, to intense “political training” in a controlled environment, which should improve system engagement. To test this hypothesis, the authors analyze archival data on over 370,000 cadres from the former German Democratic Republic. Exploiting the introduction of mandatory service in the gdr in 1962 for causal identification, they find a positive effect of conscription on bureaucrats’ system engagement. Additional analyses indicate that this effect likely did not result from deep norm internalization. Findings are more compatible with the idea that political training familiarized recruits with elite preferences, allowing them to behave strategically in accordance with the rules of the game.
Do rebel elites who gain access to political power through power-sharing reward their own ethnic constituencies after war? The authors argue that power-sharing governments serve as instruments for rebel elites to access state resources. This access allows elites to allocate state resources disproportionately to their regional power bases, particularly the settlement areas of rebel groups' ethnic constituencies. To test this proposition, the authors link information on rebel groups in power-sharing governments in post-conflict countries in Africa to information about ethnic support for rebel organizations. They combine this information with sub-national data on ethnic groups' settlement areas and data on night light emissions to proxy for sub-national variation in resource investments. Implementing a difference-in-differences empirical strategy, the authors show that regions with ethnic groups represented through rebels in the power-sharing government exhibit higher levels of night light emissions than regions without such representation. These findings help to reconceptualize post-conflict power-sharing arrangements as rent-generating and redistributive institutions.
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