Escalation with Relocation: Unpacking the Local Geography of Aid and Battle Intensity in Civil Conflicts
42 Pages Posted: 14 Apr 2020 Last revised: 21 Jul 2020
Date Written: March 24, 2020
How do foreign aid inflows into conflict-affected zones shape subsequent battle activities in civil conflicts? Despite the increasing scholarly efforts, empirical findings remain decidedly mixed. Theoretically, this article advances that aid escalates battles by incentivizing rebels to sabotage aid projects and undermine the incumbent authority, but the escalation is paired with the relocation of combat activities due to finite resources and logistical constraints. Empirically, utilizing disaggregated data and statistical reweighting techniques, it isolates the causal effect of aid provision on civil war battles in the targeted and adjacent localities in sub-Saharan Africa, at different spatial and temporal scales. The empirical analysis provides considerable support for the argument by revealing that aid has a violence-escalating effect within the targeted regions, while the same aid inflows into nearby localities negatively impact subsequent battle intensity. These findings suggest that the mixed findings in previous studies are partly driven by the escalation-relocation dynamics of battle activities.
Keywords: Africa, civil wars, conflict event, disaggregation, event data, foreign aid, geographic information systems (GIS)
JEL Classification: D74, D78, F35, O55
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation