Charles H. Anderton, John R. Carter
June 6, 2014
We present a rational choice model depicting a regime’s incentive to allocate resources to fighting rebels and killing civilians when it perceives an internal threat to its political or territorial control. The model guides our empirical inquiry of risk factors for genocide onset. Based on logit methods applied to a pooled sample of 155 countries over the period 1955–2006, we find that key variables highlighted in the theoretical model elevate genocide risk. Specifically, measures of threat, anocratic Polity scores, new state status, and low income significantly increase genocide risk, which we interpret as consistent with weak state perspectives on mass atrocity. Moreover, the threat measures matter even after controlling for internal war and the anocracy result holds even after removing components of the Polity dataset that are “contaminated” with factional violence, including genocide. Extensions of the empirical analysis to a variety of alternative measures, variables, and estimators show the robustness of weak state risk factors for genocide.