American Economic Review: Vol. 104 No. 6 (June 2014)


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Aid under Fire: Development Projects and Civil Conflict

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Crost, Benjamin, Joseph Felter, and Patrick Johnston. 2014. "Aid under Fire: Development Projects and Civil Conflict." American Economic Review, 104(6): 1833-56.

DOI: 10.1257/aer.104.6.1833


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.

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Online Appendix (184.29 KB) | Download Data Set (571.03 KB) | Author Disclosure Statement(s) (2.44 MB)


Crost, Benjamin (U CO, Denver)
Felter, Joseph (Stanford U)
Johnston, Patrick (RAND Corporation, Pittsburgh, PA)

JEL Classifications

D74: Conflict; Conflict Resolution; Alliances
F35: Foreign Aid
I32: Measurement and Analysis of Poverty
O15: Economic Development: Human Resources; Human Development; Income Distribution; Migration
O17: Formal and Informal Sectors; Shadow Economy; Institutional Arrangements
O18: Economic Development: Urban, Rural, Regional, and Transportation Analysis; Housing; Infrastructure
O19: International Linkages to Development; Role of International Organizations

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