Nation building through foreign intervention: Evidence from discontinuities in military strategies

Melissa Dell, Pablo Querubin

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


    This study uses discontinuities in U.S. strategies employed during the Vietnam War to estimate their causal impacts. It identifies the effects of bombing by exploiting rounding thresholds in an algorithm used to target air strikes. Bombing increased the military and political activities of the communist insurgency, weakened local governance, and reduced noncommunist civic engagement. The study also exploits a spatial discontinuity across neighboring military regions that pursued different counterinsurgency strategies. A strategy emphasizing overwhelming firepower plausibly increased insurgent attacks and worsened attitudes toward the U.S. and South Vietnamese government, relative to a more hearts-and-mindsoriented approach.

    Original languageEnglish (US)
    Pages (from-to)701-764
    Number of pages64
    JournalQuarterly Journal of Economics
    Issue number2
    StatePublished - May 1 2018


    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • Economics and Econometrics

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