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International Relations / Political Science

Aiding Resilience? The Impact of Foreign Assistance on the Dynamics of Intrastate Armed Conflict

Projet Leads: Paul Huth, David Backer and Kevin Jones
Timeline: 201 3- 2017
Keywords: Aid, Development, Conflict, Resilience
Funding Organisation: MINERVA
Partners: The project is based at the Center for International Development and Conflict Management.  Partners include the Center for International Security Studies at Maryland, the Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies (sub-award PI: Ravi Bhavnani), the College of William & Mary (specifically AidData; sub-award PIs: Brad Parks and Mike Tierney), the Institute of Development Studies (sub-award PI: Patricia Justino), and Development Gateway (sub-award PI: Nancy McGuire Choi).

 Abstract: This project addresses a set of fundamental issues linking security and development: Does foreign assistance affect resilience to intrastate armed conflict—and if so, where, when, and how? Existing scholarship typically approaches those questions from a country-level perspective, often treating aid in an undifferentiated manner, narrowly examining certain aspects of conflict, and thus remaining remote from investigating causal mechanisms that could plausibly affect the dynamics of violence. Recent studies have begun to delve into these relationships in a more nuanced manner, looking at patterns within countries and offering evidence that the scale and protection of aid matters. Yet these analyses focus on small numbers of countries, exhibiting active conflict, and specific forms of aid.​ The proposed research extends the scope considerably by evaluating the association between development aid and the likelihood, escalation, severity, spread, duration, and recurrence of violence, spanning the phases before, during, and after conflict. The research design constructively combines cross-national, subnational, and micro-level empirical analysis. The results will be integrated into simulations using computational modeling, to further probe aid-conflict dynamics and “what-if” counterfactuals. A distinctive advance is to employ a sizeable array of cutting-edge disaggregated data for most of Africa as well as select Asian and Latin American countries. These geocoded data, which are due to be expanded significantly through this project, permit extensive quantitative assessment that is finer-grained spatially and temporally, plus considers notable parameters of both aid disbursements and conflict events.

Watch David Backer discussing how to measure resillience to conflict