The political economy of violence and development in Latin America



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Violence has played a crucial role in shaping political institutions in Latin America through the interactions of power, revolutions, and individual’s resistance. The primary research objective of this dissertation is to examine those interactions within countries and organizations affected by conflict. The first chapter analyzes the impact of Augusto Pinochet’s autocracy on the Chilean economy. The study compares outcomes under Pinochet’s leadership with those in a synthetic counterfactual made of a weighted average of countries with similar characteristics. I find that, relative to the control, income per capita did not diverge till several years after Pinochet’s coup. In contrast, health outcomes measured by life expectancy improved immediately after Pinochet’s installment, though only slightly. The evidence I present suggests that the remarkable economic growth did not depend on Pinochet’s autocracy. Also, the results on life expectancy show that positive health effects may not be an exclusive consequence of democracies. Chapter two of the dissertation analyzes a massive movement of night watchers or vigilantes’ patrols that emerged among the most impoverished indigenous communities in the Andes at the end of the twentieth century to combat terrorism. Northern peasant patrols based their organization on democratic mechanisms while the southern patrols built a hierarchical structure. How does the variation of external threats shape the variation of governance structures and collective responses within extralegal groups? To organize the provision of security and defense against terrorism, these night watchers required mechanisms to control opportunistic behavior and prevent internal predation. This article develops an organizational theory of defense. The time horizon explains why the night watchers produced arrangements in vertical or horizontal forms. Peasant vigilantes depended on hierarchical mechanisms to enforce their agreements if and only if they confronted a short time horizon and a credible external threat. Comparative analysis of the northern and southern Peruvian communities provides empirical support for the theory.
In chapter three, I investigate the role of women within violent organizations. Women play an increasingly important role within insurgencies. This chapter investigates insurgencies’ organizational structures and the recruitment of women. I argue that differences in campaigns’ structures across insurgencies play an essential role in the recruitment of women. In more hierarchical campaigns, organizations are more likely to recruit women, as incorporating them is less disruptive. When a campaign is consensus-based and organizations anticipate potential internal conflict, they are less likely to recruit women. I evaluate my theory by exploiting a panel dataset on female participation and violent campaigns active from 1945 to 2006 across ninety countries. My results provide empirical support for the main hypotheses.



Violence, Development, Latin America