The Household Economics of Counterinsurgency

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Defence and Peace Economics

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State security forces have been locked in an ongoing struggle with the Communist Party of the Philippines – New People’s Army (NPA) for nearly fifty years. Over the course of the conflict, thousands of civilians across generations have taken up arms and participated in the counterinsurgency campaign. Citizen Armed Force Geographical Units (CAFGU) and other pro-government militias have played a key auxiliary role in combatting the insurgency and providing community security. This article draws on survey and interview data collected from CAFGU participants to examine the factors that influence decisions to join, as well as their implications for sustained participation and counterinsurgency strategy. Existing research on joining armed groups recognizes how environmental conditions, group processes, and individual motives interact to help explain participation. We shift our focus to the realm of the household and highlight how considerations related to that site affect participation. Our findings suggest that the need to avoid economic disaster and ensure a secure subsistence can have a notable influence on decisions to enlist and individual experiences as CAFGU. These effects, in turn, have implications for how the Philippine government carries out its counterinsurgency.


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