- Searching for sanctuary: government power and the location of maritime piracy
- International Interactions
- Volume | Issue number
- 41 | 4
- Pages (from-to)
- Document type
- Faculty of Social and Behavioural Sciences (FMG)
- Amsterdam Institute for Social Science Research (AISSR)
Recent systematic work on the incidence of maritime piracy shows the importance of various political, economic, and geographic correlates at the country level. Yet these correlates tell us little about the determinants of piracy location off states’ coasts, despite the fact that piracy is well known to cluster locally. Conceptualizing pirates as strategic actors who consider the risk of detection and capture, this article argues that states’ ability to project power over distance affects pirates’ decisions on where to organize and operate. As state capacity increases, piracy will locate farther away from government power centers, whereas piracy can flourish closer to state capitals in weak states that struggle to extend control over space. Using geocoded data from the International Maritime Bureau for the 1996-2013 period, results show that increases in state capacity are associated with greater median capital--piracy distances. These findings are robust to several changes in model specification. Our results have important implications for the study of piracy and crime.
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