Land Tenure, Democracy, and Patterns of Violence During the Maoist Insurgency in Nepal, 1996–2005


  • *Direct correspondence to T. David Mason, Department of Political Science, University of North Texas, 1155 Union Circle #305340, Denton, TX 76203-5017 〈〉. Data and other materials necessary to replicate this study are available upon request to the authors.


Objectives. We seek to investigate the determinants of Nepal's relapse into authoritarianism and resort to violence rather than reform as a response to the Maoist insurgency. Revolutionary insurgency emerged in Nepal after a transition to parliamentary democracy, whereas democracy is supposed to inoculate a nation against the risk of civil war. We present a theory of how the level of violence varies across districts with variations in the distribution of peasants among land tenure categories.

Methods. We use district-level data from Nepal and test hypotheses by using negative binominal statistical analysis.

Results. Our results indicate that the level of violence varies across districts with variations in land tenure patterns, the level of electoral participation, and the extent of poverty.

Conclusions. Our study provides insights into how the concentration of landed resources and political power creates incentives for a landowning coalition that dominated the state to use violence against those segments of the peasantry that have incentives to support an insurgency that promised to redistribute land.