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Winning Hearts and Minds through Development: Evidence from a Field Experiment in Afghanistan

44 Pages Posted: 19 Apr 2011 Last revised: 23 Sep 2016

Andrew Beath

World Bank - East Asia and Pacific Region

Fotini Christia

Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) - Department of Political Science

Ruben Enikolopov

Institute of Political Economy and Governance; ICREA; Universitat Pompeu Fabra; New Economic School; Barcelona GSE

Date Written: September 8, 2016

Abstract

In countries affected by insurgencies, development programs may potentially reduce violence by improving economic outcomes and increasing popular support for the government. In this paper, we test the efficacy of this approach through a large-scale randomized controlled trial of the largest development program in Afghanistan at the height of the Taliban insurgency. We find that the program generally improved economic outcomes, increased support for the government, and reduced insurgent violence. However, in areas close to the Pakistani border, the program did not increase support for the government and actually increased insurgent violence. This heterogeneity in treatment effects appears to be due to differences between districts in the degree of infiltration by external insurgents, who are not reliant on the local population for support. The results suggest that while development programs can quell locally-based insurgencies, such programs may be counterproductive when implemented in areas where insurgents are not embedded in the local population.

Keywords: onflict; development; aid; field experiment; Afghanistan

JEL Classification: D74, F35, I38, O15, O18, O19

Suggested Citation

Beath, Andrew and Christia, Fotini and Enikolopov, Ruben, Winning Hearts and Minds through Development: Evidence from a Field Experiment in Afghanistan (September 8, 2016). MIT Political Science Department Research Paper No. 2011-14. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1809677 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.1809677

Andrew Beath

World Bank - East Asia and Pacific Region ( email )

Washington, DC 20433
United States

Fotini Christia (Contact Author)

Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) - Department of Political Science ( email )

77 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02139
United States

Ruben Enikolopov

Institute of Political Economy and Governance ( email )

Ramon Trias Fargas, 25-27
Barcelona, 08005
Spain

ICREA ( email )

Passeig Lluís Companys, 23
Barcelona, 08010
Spain

Universitat Pompeu Fabra ( email )

Ramon Trias Fargas, 25-27
Barcelona, E-08005
Spain

New Economic School ( email )

100A Novaya Street
Moscow, Skolkovo 143026
Russia

Barcelona GSE ( email )

Ramon Trias Fargas, 25-27
Barcelona, Barcelona 08005
Spain

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