Thiemo Fetzer, Pedro Souza, Oliver Vanden Eynde, Austin L. Wright, 11 July 2021

Previous research in economics has focused on the causes of conflict, while the ending of military interventions has received less attention. This column examines the recent security transition from international troops to local forces in the ongoing civil conflict in Afghanistan using declassified data on conflict outcomes and perceptions of local security. It finds that a decline in violence during the initial phase of the security transfer was followed by an upsurge in violence once foreign troops physically withdrew, suggesting that the Taliban’s attacks have been highly strategic. 

Travers Barclay Child, 21 May 2017

The pervasive ‘hearts and minds’ theory guiding counterinsurgency doctrine contends that military-led reconstruction reduces violence in post-conflict settings. Using rare data from Afghanistan, this column questions the theoretical and empirical basis of that perspective. Military-led projects in the health sector are found to successfully alleviate violence, whereas those in the education sector actually provoke conflict. The destabilising effects of education projects are strongest in conservative areas, where public opinion polls suggest education projects breed antipathy towards international forces.

Tommaso Ciarli, Chiara Kofol, Carlo Menon, 27 October 2015

Though some studies propose that entrepreneurial activity increases during conflicts, macro evidence shows that a conflict is damaging to growth. This column argues that the conflict in Afghanistan did not contribute to economic development because it caused regressive structural changes at the micro level. It reduced employment opportunities and increased self-employment in activities that have low returns. To improve the economic resilience, self-employment in activities that are less affected by conflict should be stimulated.

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