Civil War and Social Capital: Behavioral-Game Evidence from Nepal

82 Pages Posted: 19 Aug 2011

See all articles by Michael J. Gilligan

Michael J. Gilligan

New York University - Department of Politics

Benjamin J. Pasquale

New York University (NYU) - Wilf Family Department of Politics

Cyrus Samii

New York University (NYU) - Wilf Family Department of Politics

Date Written: August 3, 2011

Abstract

Using original behavioral games and survey data from Nepal we find that members of communities with greater exposure to violence during Nepal’s ten-year civil war exhibit significantly greater levels of social capital, measured by subjects’ willingness to invest in trust-based transactions and contribute to a collective good. Our identification strategy exploits communities’ exogenous isolation from the unpredictable path of war. We also offer new causal mechanisms. Previous work has suggested a mechanism at the level of individuals’ preferences. We by contrast hypothesize two community-level causal mechanisms for this relationship. First according to our institutional hypothesis communities that suffered war-related violence were forced to adopt new norms that fostered pro-social behavior. Second, our purging hypothesis conjectures that violence may have caused less pro-social individuals to flee at a higher rate than more pro-social persons, leaving a disproportionately pro-social population in violence- plagued communities. We find strong evidence for a community-level effect and no evidence for the purging hypothesis, suggesting the institutional mechanism is at work. We also find evidence for the individual-preference-based mechanism.

Keywords: conflict, violence, Nepal, social capital, behavioral games, trust game, public goods game, matching, causal inference

Suggested Citation

Gilligan, Michael J. and Pasquale, Benjamin J. and Samii, Cyrus, Civil War and Social Capital: Behavioral-Game Evidence from Nepal (August 3, 2011). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1911969 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.1911969

Michael J. Gilligan (Contact Author)

New York University - Department of Politics ( email )

19 West 4th Street
New York, NY 10012
United States

Benjamin J. Pasquale

New York University (NYU) - Wilf Family Department of Politics ( email )

715 Broadway
New York, NY 10003
United States

Cyrus Samii

New York University (NYU) - Wilf Family Department of Politics ( email )

715 Broadway
New York, NY 10003
United States

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