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
International Rescue Committee
December 16, 2014
In fragile states, job programs are designed to deter high-risk men from crime and violence. These programs assume that supplying skills and capital stimulates lawful employment, that employment deters illegal or violent work, and that employment will increase socio-political integration. Rigorous, individual-level evidence for these assumptions is rare. We evaluate a program of agricultural training and capital for Liberian ex-fighters. The agricultural skills and capital increased returns to lawful employment. Consequently, the men were 24% less engaged with mercenary recruiters during a neighboring war. They also shifted hours from illicit work (e.g. illegal mining) to agriculture by 20%. Some men did not receive the capital inputs and expected a cash transfer instead. Expecting future transfers was especially influential in deterring illicit and mercenary work. We see no evidence, however, that employment affects non-material violence or socio-political integration. The findings challenge strategies for employing and rehabilitating high-risk men.
Number of Pages in PDF File: 77
Keywords: post-conflict, violence, reintegration, employment, crime, training, agriculture, conflict, field experiment, Africa, Liberia
JEL Classification: D74, O12, J21, C93working papers series
Date posted: May 2, 2014 ; Last revised: December 17, 2014
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