The Economics of Conflict in the Southern Phillipines: Institutional Stickiness and the Moro Insurgency

The ongoing insurgency in the southern Philippines is generally believed to be a religious war. Historical evidence shows that this belief is unsatisfactory. Viewing the conflict through the framework of institutional stickiness leads to a more robust explanation of the insurgency by exposing the institutional misalignments that are at the root. These institutional misalignments lead to conflict over property rights, protection of indigenous culture, and fair provision of government services. This approach also informs policy by highlighting the problems with the national government’s attempts to quell the insurgency through the use of force. If the national government’s goal is to end the insurgency, a policy response that focuses on the use of local knowledge and that increases local autonomy is most likely to succeed.

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