Trusting Former Rebels: An Experimental Approach to Understanding Reintegration after Civil War
CERGE-EI Working Paper Series No. 512
73 Pages Posted: 30 Mar 2014
Date Written: March 1, 2014
The stability of many post-conflict societies rests on the successful reintegration of former soldiers. We use an experimental approach to study reintegration in Northern Uganda and examine behavior of former soldiers together with the behavior of receiving communities towards this group. We focus on trust-based interactions and find that individual trustworthiness increases with the length of time a person was with the Lord’s Resistance Army, a rebel group which forcibly recruited a large fraction of young people in the area. The effect is strongest among former soldiers who were abducted during childhood and is mute among those who soldiered during adulthood. These results are consistent with predictions of recent theories that highlight the importance of cooperation during war. Furthermore, members of receiving communities with an abductee son, who thus have better knowledge of former soldiers are aware of the behavioral difference. They believe former soldiers are more trustworthy than their peers and trust them more. Last, we find no evidence of preference-based discrimination, suggesting that anger is attenuated when communities do not attribute responsibility for committed violence to returning soldiers.
Keywords: trust, cooperation, civil war, endogenous preferences, soldiers, reintegration
JEL Classification: C93, D03, D74, O12
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation