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Aid under fire : development projects and civil conflict

An increasing amount of development aid is targeted to areas affected by civil conflict; some of it is in the hope that aid will reduce conflict by weakening public support for insurgent movements. But if insurgents know that development projects will weaken their position, they have an incentive to derail them, which may exacerbate conflict. To formalize this institution, we develop a theoretical model of bargaining and conflict in the context of development projects. The model predicts that development projects cause an increase in violent conflict if governments cannot (1) ensure the project's success in the face of insurgent opposition and (2) credibly commit to honoring agreements reached before the start of the project. To test the model, we estimate the causal effect of a large development program on conflict casualities in the Philppines. Identification is based on a regression discontinuity design that exploits an arbitrary poverty threshold used to assign eligibility for the program. Consistent with the model's predictions, eligible municipalities suffered a substantial increase in casualties, which lasted only for the furation of the project and was evenly split between government troops and insurgents
Print Book, English, ©2010
Harvard Kennedy School, Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, Cambridge, MA, ©2010