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Elephants, Tigers and Safety in Post-Conflict Sri Lanka

Development Policy Centre Discussion Paper No. 27

41 Pages Posted: 28 Feb 2013 Last revised: 6 Mar 2013

Dinuk Jayasuriya

Australian National University (ANU) - Development Policy Centre

John Gibson

University of Waikato; Motu Economic and Public Policy Research

Date Written: February 28, 2013

Abstract

Civilian suffering from civil war extends well after the ceasefire. Reliable ways to measure perceived safety are needed in post-conflict settings, since the extent to which safety improves may be crucial in maintaining the peace. Yet obtaining truthful reports from respondents in these settings is unlikely. Individuals traumatised by conflict may be reticent to reveal opinions that could expose them to sanction from either the authorities or their peers. List experiments, where respondents are given a list of statements and, without revealing particular answers, count how many listed items are true, can yield sensitive information. This paper uses list experiments to study perceived safety among civilians in areas where fighting was most intense during the recently-concluded 25-year civil war between the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) and the government of Sri Lanka. The results show substantial differences in reported safety, depending on whether they were elicited through direct questions or indirectly through the list experiment. Biased answers to direct questions about safety could alter conclusions about which ethnic and gender groups are most fearful. Qualitative interviews reveal some unexpected sources of fear.

Keywords: Conflict, Item-count technique, List experiment, Safety, Sri Lanka, Tamil

JEL Classification: D74, O12

Suggested Citation

Jayasuriya, Dinuk and Gibson, John, Elephants, Tigers and Safety in Post-Conflict Sri Lanka (February 28, 2013). Development Policy Centre Discussion Paper No. 27. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2226725 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2226725

Dinuk Jayasuriya (Contact Author)

Australian National University (ANU) - Development Policy Centre ( email )

7 Liversidge Street (Bld 70)
Lennox Crossing
Canberra, 0200
Australia

John Gibson

University of Waikato ( email )

Te Raupapa
Private Bag 3105
Hamilton, 3240
New Zealand

Motu Economic and Public Policy Research

19 Milne Terrace
Island Bay
Wellington, 6002
New Zealand

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