Aid and social programs are commonly used to fight insurgencies and crime. However, sometimes they fail to achieve their goal of increasing citizen cooperation with the state. I propose a series of game-theoretic models that focus on the strategic interaction between a state and a citizen in the face of challenges to the state’s monopoly of power. I argue that even if the provision of aid or social programs increases citizens’ intrinsic motivation to cooperate with the state, they do not necessarily translate into more cooperation. I show that citizen cooperation depends on the whether the increase in the provision of aid is accompanied by an increase in the use of violent or hard tools by the state, the citizens’ expectation of future rewards, and the challenger’s response. The models thus provide a rationale for why even if social programs increase state legitimacy, they may fail to increase citizen cooperation.
July 14, 2021