Can Employment Reduce Lawlessness and Rebellion? A Field Experiment with High-Risk Men in a Fragile State
Columbia University - School of International & Public Affairs (SIPA); Columbia University - Department of Political Science; Bureau for Research and Economic Analysis of Development (BREAD); Center for Global Development; Innovations for Poverty Action; Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) - Abdul Latif Jameel Poverty Action Lab (J-PAL); Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR)
International Rescue Committee
March 6, 2015
In fragile states, reintegration programs aim to deter high-risk men from crime and violence. They typically supply skills and capital to increase lawful employment, arguing that employment deters predatory work and increases socio-political integration. While plausible, rigorous evidence is rare. We evaluate a program of agricultural training, capital inputs, and counseling for Liberian ex-fighters. The program did not change social networks, violent attitudes, or aggression. But capital and skills increased returns to farming, and men shifted work hours from illicit to farm activities by 20%. Men also reduced interest in mercenary work in a nearby war. Finally, some men did not receive their inputs but expected a future cash transfer instead. They reduced illicit/mercenary activities most of all. We conclude that higher returns to peaceful work do reduce illicit work and armed recruitment, but to deter future violence, programs must provide ongoing material incentives or better enforcement and re-socialization.
Number of Pages in PDF File: 82
Keywords: post-conflict, violence, reintegration, rehabilitation, employment, crime, training, agriculture, conflict, field experiment, Africa, Liberia, social reintegration
JEL Classification: D74, O12, J21, C93
Date posted: May 2, 2014 ; Last revised: March 7, 2015
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