Winning Hearts and Minds Through Development: Evidence from a Field Experiment in Afghanistan
45 Pages Posted: 15 Aug 2013
Date Written: 2013
Development programs are increasingly used not only as an instrument for economic and political development, but also as a tool for counterinsurgency. We explore the effectiveness of this approach using a large-scale randomized field experiment in Afghanistan. We find that the country’s largest development program improves economic welfare, attitudes towards the government, and levels of security in villages during program implementation. The positive effect of the program on security, however, is observed only in villages with low levels of violence at program start. After program completion, the magnitude of the effect on security declines and is no longer significant. Results suggest that development aid can reduce violence, but the effect is only short-lived and requires that a certain minimum threshold of initial security be in place.
Keywords: community driven development, field experiment, conflict, counterinsurgency, Afghanistan
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