Seeds of Distrust: Conflict in Uganda

56 Pages Posted: 20 Jan 2012

See all articles by Dominic Rohner

Dominic Rohner

University of Zurich

Mathias Thoenig

University of Lausanne; Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR)

Fabrizio Zilibotti

Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR); Yale University

Multiple version iconThere are 2 versions of this paper

Date Written: January 2012


We study the effect of civil conflict on social capital, focusing on the experience of Uganda during the last decade. Using individual and county-level data, we document large causal effects on trust and ethnic identity of an exogenous outburst of ethnic conflicts in 2002-05. We exploit two waves of survey data from Afrobarometer 2000 and 2008, including information on socioeconomic characteristics at the individual level, and geo-referenced measures of fighting events from ACLED. Our identification strategy exploits variations in the intensity of fighting both in the spatial and cross-ethnic dimensions. We find that more intense fighting decreases generalized trust and increases ethnic identity. The effects are quantitatively large and robust to a number of control variables, alternative measures of violence, and different statistical techniques involving ethnic and spatial fixed effects and instrumental variables. We also document that the post-war effects of ethnic violence depend on the ethnic fractionalization. Fighting has a negative effect on the economic situation in highly fractionalized counties, but has no effect in less fractionalized counties. Our findings are consistent with the existence of a self-reinforcing process between conflicts and ethnic cleavages.

Keywords: ethnic conflict, ethnic identity, fighting, fractionalisation, slavery, social capital, trust, Uganda

JEL Classification: A13, D74, O55

Suggested Citation

Rohner, Dominic and Thoenig, Mathias and Zilibotti, Fabrizio and Zilibotti, Fabrizio, Seeds of Distrust: Conflict in Uganda (January 2012). CEPR Discussion Paper No. DP8741, Available at SSRN:

Dominic Rohner (Contact Author)

University of Zurich ( email )

Muehlebachstrasse 86
Zurich, 8008

Mathias Thoenig

University of Lausanne ( email )

Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR)

United Kingdom

Fabrizio Zilibotti

Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR)

United Kingdom

Yale University ( email )

New Haven, CT 06520
United States

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