The Supply Side Determinants of Territory and Conflict

Originally published in Economic Science Institute

What determines the geographic extent of territory? We microfound and extend Boulding’s “Loss of Strength Gradient” to predict the extensive and intensive margins of conflict across space. We show how economies of scale in the production of violence and varying costs of projecting violence at a distance combine to affect the geographic distribution of conflict and territory. We test and probe the boundaries of this model in an experiment varying the fixed costs of conflict entry. As predicted, higher fixed costs increase the probability of exclusive territories; median behavior closely tracks equilibrium predictions in all treatments.

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