The ‘Gänseliesel’ (Goose Girlis), a historical fountain erected in 1901, represents the most well-known landmark of the city of Goettingen.

Incentives and Survival in Violent Conflicts

Moshik Lavie, Christophe Muller



This paper analytically investigates the incentive scheme of perpetrators of violent conflicts. It provides a rational equilibrium framework to elicit how monetary incentives and survival considerations shape a combatant’s decision to participate in a conflict. In the model, a leader decides to award soldiers monetary incentives. Civilians finance the militia via donations and soldiers decide on the actual fighting and indulge in looting. We explore the scheduled decision-making that takes place on the path toward a violent conflict and study the principal–agent relationship that exists between the leader and the militia. In addition, we analyze the effect of several internal factors (productivity and survival risk) and external factors (relative economic resources, opponents’ military strength) on the intensity of the conflict.

The model shows that soldiers fighting decisions are set by personal mortality risk and the level of identification with the cause of war. In addition, our results link between monetary incentives and participation in fighting and demonstrate a substitution effect of looting and donations as monetary incentives.


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