Conflicts and Reconstruction

Civil warfare is mostly robustly associated with poverty. This is unsurprising given that the humanitarian and economic consequences of civil war in are often severe resulting in loss of lives, destruction of capital, and reduced income opportunities. In addition, civil war violence affects cooperation, trust and the quality of institutions.

On the other hand some societies just emerging from conflict often show rapid recovery rates (e.g. Rwanda, Angola and Mozambique). Conflict clearly affects people’s ability to cope which may spur economic development. We aim to contribute to a better understanding of the causes of civil warfare using (quasi)experiments and instrumental variable techniques to establish causal claims. At the same time we use experiments to assess the impact of civil war violence on behavior to develop appropriate policy responses for post-war reconstruction efforts.

Our macro work focuses on the interrelations between resources, institutions, economic development and conflict. See [1], [2], [3].

Our micro work currently focuses on projects in Burundi, Liberia and Sierra Leone.

In Burundi we collaborate with the University of Antwerp and implemented a survey in 2007 under 1500 households across the country. In addition we ran a series of field experiments. Our main interest is to assess the impact of the 1993-2003 civil war on institutions, health, crop choice, land rights and income development. In our field experiments we measured the impact of the conflict on social, risk and time preferences. For working papers see [4], [5], [6], [7], [8], for methodological papers see [9], descriptive report  [10]

Recently, we have began to look at post-conflict reconstruction efforts. We collaborate with a number of NGO’s to asses the impact of poverty reduction and conservation programs.

In Liberia we cooperate with ZOA Refugee Care to evaluate an agricultural livelihoods project in the two counties of Margibi and Monserrado. We use a randomized control trial to assess the program impact on income, food security and social cohesion in 53 villages. We use various types of decision-making processes regarding the contents of the program to examine their potential differential effect on the outcomes.

In Sierra Leone we are collaborating with the Gola Forest Program to assess the impact of a livelihood and conservation program in 200 communities around the forest reserve. The program involves implementing several field experiments varying the conditions under which aid is distributed to communities.


  1. Voors, M.J., Bulte, E.H. and Damania, R. (2010) Higher Incomes and Corruption in Africa: Does a Virtuous Cycle exist?
  2. Nillesen, E.M. and Voors, M.J. (2009) Can Aid Improve Governance in the Short Term?
  3. Ree, J. de, and Nillesen, E. (2009) ”Aiding violence or Peace? The impact of foreign aid on the risk of civil conflict in Sub-Saharan Africa.“Journal of Development Economics Journal of Development Economics 88 pp. 301-313.
  4. Nillesen, E. and Verwimp, P., (2010). A Phoenix in Flames? Portfolio Choice and Violence in Civil War in rural Burundi. MICROCON Research Working Paper 25, Brighton: MICROCON.
  5. Voors, M.,  E. Nillesen, P. Verwimp, E. Bulte, R. Lensink and D. van Soest (2009) Does Conflict affect Preferences? Results from Field Experiments in Burundi
  6. Voors, M.J. and Bulte, E.H. (2009) Unbundling Institutions at the Local Level: Conflict, Institutions and Income in Burundi.
  7. Nillesen, E. and Verwimp, P. (2009) Grievance, Commodity Prices and Rainfall: A Village-level Analysis of Rebel Recruitment in Burundi, MICROCON Research Working Paper 11, Brighton: MICROCON.
  8. Beekman, G. Bulte, E.H. (2009) Land Rights, Social Capital, and Soil Conservation Decisions: Evidence from Burundi
  9. Bundervoet, T., Nillesen, E., Verwimp, P. and Voors, M. (2009) Integrating Conflict Questions in a Household Survey: An Example from Burundi, Households in Conflict Network, IDS University of Sussex
  10. Ndayishimiye, N., Butoyi, J., Verwimp, P., Bundervoet, T., Nillesen, L. and Voors, M. (2009). The Evolution of Welfare of Rural Households in Post-Conflict Burundi: Results from the Priority Survey Panel 1998-2007. Antwerp University