Local Economic Conditions and Participation in the Rwandan Genocide

52 Pages Posted: 1 Aug 2011 Last revised: 5 Mar 2014

See all articles by Willa Friedman

Willa Friedman

University of Houston - Department of Economics

Date Written: 2011


This paper uses new data on participation to examine how local economic conditions shaped within-country variation in willingness to participate in violent activities during the Rwandan genocide. It discusses and tests the predictions of three sets of theories about the causes of violence. The data provide strong evidence that higher rates of local unemployment among Hutu are associated with increased participation, and that higher levels of education among Hutu are also associated with higher rates of participation. Contrary to what some theories would predict, I find no evidence that the assets, employment, or education of the Tutsi population reduce participation rates. I also find suggestive evidence of positive associations between violence and the interaction of unemployment and education both at the commune level and at the individual level. These results are robust to the inclusion of province fi xed eff ects and a large set of controls, including radio ownership and the age- pro file and migration patterns of the local area. These results are consistent with theories of opportunity costs discouraging violence and violence as political participation, but do not support theories of relative deprivation and looting as causes of violence.

Suggested Citation

Friedman, Willa, Local Economic Conditions and Participation in the Rwandan Genocide (2011). APSA 2011 Annual Meeting Paper, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1900726

Willa Friedman (Contact Author)

University of Houston - Department of Economics ( email )

Houston, TX 77204-5882
United States

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