More Money, Less Violence? the Effects of a Natural Resource Boom on Local Electoral Violence in Peru

Stanislao Maldonado (Universidad del Rosario)
Juan Vargas (Universidad del Rosario)
Ben Crost (University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign)

Abstract: How do resource booms affect politicians' decisions to use violence to contest elections? Using a unique dataset on local government elections in Peru, we examine the impact of an exogenous increase in mining rents on electoral violence. While the relationship between natural resources and civil conflict in weak institutional environments has been largely explored, little is known about how natural resources affect politicians' choices of violeny means to affect election results. We find that electoral violence increases as resource rents increase, but only up to a certain threshold. When rents become very high, electoral conflict is negatively associated with mining royalties. This non-monotonic relationship fits with the North, Wallis, Weingast (2009) model of a limited access society. As rents increase, dominant elites have greater incentives and more capacity to monopolize the means of violence in order to strengthen their control over rents. Their large and growing rents enable them to buy electoral support, buy off opponents, and discourage violent challenges.