Submitted by David Evans On Wed, 06/10/2015
Yesterday closed the second Annual Bank Conference on Africa, this year with the theme Confronting Fragility and Conflict in Africa. Over two days, we heard about 50 papers on causes, consequences, and interventions to interrupt conflict. We also heard presentations of a range of impact evaluations and lab experiments to test policies and understand mechanisms in post-conflict environments. Below is a (non-exhaustive!) run-down of papers, along with some commentary. Almost all the papers are available at the conference site. We’ve tagged #RCTs and Lab-in-the-Field (#LITF) papers.
The Big Picture
- Ted Miguel gave a keynote in which he focused on three principal papers: A recent review (Burke et al 2015) demonstrates, across dozens of studies, a clear positive relationship between rising temperatures and increased conflict, with Africa among the regions likely to be most affected in coming years. At the same time, Burgess et al (2015) show how road expenditures in Kenya were dramatically higher in districts with the same ethnicity as the president, a relationship that is significant during Kenya’s autocratic periods but not its democratic periods, suggesting that democracy can mitigate ethnicity-related violence. To round out the story, Fetzer (2015) shows that a public employment program in India mitigates the relationship between adverse productivity shocks and conflict. So, yes on democracy and social protection programs.
Mining and Natural Resources!
- Axbard et al. use variation in international mineral prices and within-country time and geographic variation to show that when a mine opens in South Africa, crime doesn’t increase. But you may not want to be around when the mine closes.
- Berman et al. use world mineral prices (apparently the second-most popular instrument at the conference, after rainfall) and data from across Africa to suggest that rising mineral prices are associated with higher country-level violence.
- Adhvaryu et al. demonstrate how resource accumulation (measured via rainfall) has a net positive effect of conflict despite competing component effects: greater opportunity cost of conflict, but also more to fight over and more resources to fund a militia.