Sunday, August 25, 2013

"The violence trap"

What is the "violence trap"? It's a term used by developmental economists (development, in terms of developing countries) to describe an all too common politico-economic condition in poor countries across the globe.  Most poor countries are riddled with violence on a scale we don't really understand in America.  So in order to reduce/manage this violence, those in power often times "bribe" the violent factions into an uneasy equilbrium.  The problem is that the mechanisms used to bribe the bad guys almost always hinder or destroy economically beneficial aspects of the country's economy.  And if you remove these economic hinderences, violence results.  So the country faces either constant, brutual violence, or no economic growth -- the violence trap.

I knew nothing about this fascinating topic until I listened to Russ Robert's Econtalk podcast from two weeks ago where he featured the major player in the violence trap research world, Barry Weingast.  As always, it's a great listen and I strongly recommend you find an hour to listen to it, if you're interested in this topic.  Click here to go to the Econtalk link.