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What Do We (Not) Know About Development Aid and Violence? A Systematic Review

Christoph Zürcher

World Development, 2017, vol. 98, issue C, 506-522

Abstract: The paper presents findings from the first-ever systematic review of the causal impact of development aid on violence in countries affected by civil war. The review identifies 19 studies: Fourteen within-country studies from Afghanistan, Iraq, Colombia, Philippines, and India, and five cross-national studies. These studies investigate the impact of six aid types: Community-driven development, conditional cash transfers, public employment scheme, humanitarian aid, infrastructure, and aid provided by military commanders in Iraq and Afghanistan. The evidence for a violence-dampening effect of aid in conflict zones is not strong. Aid in conflict zones is more likely to exacerbate violence than to dampen violence. A violence-dampening effect of aid appears to be conditional on a relatively secure environment for aid projects to be implemented. A violence-increasing effect occurs when aid is misappropriated by violent actors, or when violent actors sabotage aid projects in order to disrupt the cooperation between the local population and the government.

Keywords: development aid; violence; insurgency; COIN; systematic review (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2017
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