Aid Under Fire: Development Projects and Civil Conflict
We estimate the causal effect of a large development program on conflict in the Philippines through a regression discontinuity design that exploits an arbitrary poverty threshold used to assign eligibility for the program. We find that barely eligible municipalities experienced a large increase in conflict casualties compared to barely ineligible ones. This increase is mostly due to insurgent-initiated incidents in the early stages of program-preparation. Our results are consistent with the hypothesis that insurgents try to sabotage the program because its success would weaken their support in the population. Video with author: Hear Joseph Felter, co-Director of ESOC, discuss the type of research that is involved in compiling micro-level data for ESOC articles, such as this one.
American Economic Review 104(6), 1833-56