Aid Under Fire

Development Projects and Civil Conflict

Published In: American Economic Review, v. 104, no. 6, June 2014, p. 1833-1856

Posted on RAND.org on June 01, 2014

by Benjamin Crost, Patrick B. Johnston, Joseph Felter

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We estimate the causal effect of a large development program on conflict in the Philippines through a regression discontinuity design that exploits an arbitrary poverty threshold used to assign eligibility for the program. We find that barely eligible municipalities experienced a large increase in conflict casualties compared to barely ineligible ones. This increase is mostly due to insurgent-initiated incidents in the early stages of program preparation. Our results are consistent with the hypothesis that insurgents try to sabotage the program because its success would weaken their support in the population.

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