State-Building in Weak Democracies: Armed Threats and Economic Revenue

Graduate Research Grant
Grant Year

What explains the variations in the state-building process in weakly institutionalized democracies? This project seeks to understand 1) why state-building exhibits such a rich variation across subnational units and 2) why and when politicians invest in some dimensions of state capacity (i.e. coercive, extractive, administrative) more than others. I contend that variations across space and dimensions can be explained by the the interaction between armed threats and opportunities for economic revenue. The project leverages observational, quasi-experimental, and qualitative information to identify general patterns and causal mechanisms using the case of Colombia. In applying for the Kellogg Research Grant, my main objective is to fund one year of fieldwork in Colombia and build the qualitative component of the project, through semi-structured interviews of politicians, bureaucrats, and business leaders, at the national and subnational level.