Economic Backwardness and Social Tension
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We propose that relative economic backwardness contributes to the build-up of social tension and nonviolent and violent conflict. We test our hypothesis using data on organized mass movements and armed civil conflict. The findings show that greater economic backwardness is consistently linked to a higher probability of seeing the onset of violent and especially nonviolent forms of civil unrest. We provide evidence that the relationship is causal in IV estimations using new instruments, including mailing speeds and telegram charges around 1900. The magnitude of the effect of backwardness on social tension increases in the 2SLS estimations.