The past decade has seen rapid growth in an interdisciplinary body of research examining the legacy of war on social and political behaviour. This column presents a meta-analysis and synthesis of this research. Evidence from surveys and experiments from over 40 countries reveals a stylised fact: individual exposure to war-related violence tends to increase social cooperation, community participation, and pro-social behaviour. However, these changes are mainly directed towards people from the same community.
Michal Bauer, Christopher Blattman, Julie Chytilová, Joseph Henrich, Edward Miguel, Tamar Mitts, 02 July 2016
Martin Koppensteiner, Marco Manacorda, 18 April 2016
Stress and violence during the nine months in utero has been widely shown to have important effects on child development. To date this research has largely focused on extreme and relatively rare events. This column uses data from Brazil to explore how exposure to day-to-day violence can affect birth weight. The birth weight of newborns whose mothers are exposed to a homicide during their first trimester is significantly lower. This effect is smaller for mothers who live in more violent neighbourhoods, consistent with the interpretation that violence is more stressful when it is rare.
Eli Berman, Mitch Downey, Joe Felter, 15 February 2016
The bloody conflicts in Syria and Iraq have forced the issue of refugees onto the global agenda. However, among the neglected aspects of this discussion are how governance can be restored to conflict regions and the welfare effects that such actions, which are likely to be coercive, will have on local residents. This column examines the impact of a counter-insurgency programme in the Philippines on one development outcome in contested territories – malnutrition of young children. The programme saw a substantial long-term decrease in malnutrition in recaptured areas, but a rise in malnutrition in neighbouring areas. Such efforts may simply displace insurgents and their negative effects, rather than reducing them.
Stelios Michalopoulos, Elias Papaioannou, 24 December 2015
The carving up of Africa by colonial powers is often a touch-stone for those concerned with African development and underdevelopment. This column looks into the effect imposed borders had on splitting ethnicities across countries. It finds that colonial border designs have spurred political violence and that ethnic partitioning is systematically linked to civil conflict, discrimination by the national government, and instability.
Maarten Bosker, Joppe de Ree, 18 January 2012
Civil wars are devastating to a country’s development perspectives. What’s more, they often spread across borders. But this column argues that only ethnic civil wars pose a significant threat to neighbouring countries’ stability. Countries with ethnic links to a neighbouring ethnic conflict see their chances of experiencing civil conflict increase by six percentage points.
Paul Collier, Pedro Vicente, 06 February 2009
Recent research shows that anti-violence informational campaigns can increase voter turnout, suggesting that voter intimidation has large effects on turnout. This column summarises results from a nationwide field experiment during the 2007 elections in Nigeria revealing that illicit tactics were rife. Incumbent politicians often used vote buying and fraud, while opposition candidates used intimidation and violence.
Raymond Fisman, Edward Miguel, 29 November 2008
This column suggests that in Africa an income drop of 5%—a large but altogether common deterioration in economic conditions—increases the risk of civil conflict in the following year to nearly 30%. This suggests that aid agencies could help prevent war by targeting short-term emergency aid towards countries hard-hit by adverse commodity price movements or weather shocks.
Raymond Fisman, 14 November 2008
Ray Fisman of Columbia University talks to Romesh Vaitilingam about his new book, Economic Gangsters: Corruption, Violence, and the Poverty of Nations, written with Ted Miguel. They discuss witch-killing in Tanzania, parking violations by United Nations diplomats, and the value of political connections in both the developing and developed world. The interview was recorded at the Centre for Economic Performance in London in November 2008.
Simeon Djankov , Marta Reynal-Querol, 29 October 2008
Would reducing poverty reduce the risk of civil war in poor countries? This column explains that the relationship between poverty and civil conflicts is probably driven by other factors omitted from previous econometric specifications, such as colonial history. To reduce the probability of civil war, policies need to address other structural problems.