Lyall, Jason, Yuki Shiraito, and Kosuke Imai. (2015). ``Coethnic Bias and Wartime Informing.'' Journal of Politics, Vol. 77, No. 3, pp. 833-848.



Information about insurgent groups is a central resource in civil wars: counterinsurgents seek it, insurgents safeguard it, and civilians often trade it. Yet despite its essential role in civil war dynamics, the act of informing is still poorly understood, due mostly to the classified nature of informant ``tips.'' As an alternative research strategy, we use an original 2,700 respondent survey experiment in 100 villages to examine attitudes toward the Guardians of Peace program, a widespread campaign by the International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan to recruit local informants. We find that coethnic bias --- the systematic tendency to favor cooperation with coethnics --- shapes attitudes about informing and beliefs about retaliation, especially among Tajik respondents. This bias persists even after adjusting for additional explanations and potential confounding variables, suggesting that identity considerations such as coethnicity may influence attitudes toward high-risk behavior in wartime settings.

© Kosuke Imai
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