(When) Do Anti-poverty Programs Reduce Violence? India’s Rural Employment Guarantee and Maoist Conflict

Aditya Dasgupta (University of California, Merced), Kishore Gawande (University of Texas, Austin), and Devesh Kapur (Johns Hopkins University – SAIS)

More than half of all nations have experienced a violent civil conflict since 1960.[1] One of the best predictors of conflict outbreak in a country is a low level of economic development and whether it has experienced a civil conflict in the past, suggesting the existence of “conflict trap” in which poverty and violence reinforce one another over time. This begs the question: how do nations break out of the vicious cycle of poverty and violence?

Poverty encourages participation in armed civil conflict in at least two ways. First, it creates economic and political grievances among impoverished groups, providing fertile ground for rebel groups to draw support from those who feel neglected by the state. Second, a lack of employment opportunities and stable livelihoods reduces the opportunity costs of participating in violent conflict, making it easier for rebel groups to recruit fighters.

If poverty fuels violence, then anti-poverty programs ought to play an important role in pacifying violent civil conflict. A large and growing scholarly literature has examined this policy implication, coming to surprisingly mixed conclusions. One randomized study of Afghanistan’s largest development program finds that the program contributed to a modest reduction in violence.[2] Another important randomized study in Liberia found that a combination of cash payments and therapy produced a durable reduction of participation in crime and violence among at-risk young men.[3] Other studies, especially those that examine the roll-out of large-scale government programs and not pilot experiments, have found that foreign aid and development programs are sometimes associated with increases in violence.[4]

How do we reconcile the conflicting evidence, especially the disjuncture between micro-level randomized studies by researchers and the program evaluation literature? We argue that state capacity, or the bureaucratic capacity of a government to successfully implement programs, may play an important role in actuating the pacifying effects of anti-poverty programs. In conditions of low state capacity, program funds are unlikely to pass through to local populations and corruption may even reinforce local grievances with the state and provide opportunities for rebel financing. When local state capacity is strong, however, antipoverty programs have a better chance of actually reducing poverty, improving perceptions of the state, and dis-incentivizing participation in deadly conflict.

To examine this hypothesis, we empirically examine how the roll-out of India’s National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (NREGS), a large-scale anti-poverty program which guarantees every rural household in India up to 100 days of public works employment, affected the intensity of the Maoist conflict, a protracted conflict between a Maoist insurgency concentrated in eastern India and the Indian government. Because the roll-out of NREGS was staggered in three phases between 2006 and 2008, we can employ a difference in differences research design. If NREGS reduced violence, we should observe a reduction in violence in districts adopting the program relative to districts experiencing no change in their program adoption status. Moreover, if these pacifying effects depended on state capacity, we should observe that these effects are mainly concentrated in districts with a high level of state capacity, which varies quite substantially across regions and districts of India.

To measure the intensity of the Maoist conflict, we assemble a new panel dataset of violent incidents and deaths at the district level, drawing on the archives of local language newspapers, which ensures that we get adequate temporal and spatial coverage of a long-simmering conflict that occurs mainly in rural areas; existing datasets that draw exclusively on English language sources are heavily biased toward more recent conflict events and those that are close to urban areas. To measure district-level state capacity, we average the ranking of districts across four indicators of basic service provision according to the 2001 census based on the share of villages with: (1) a paved road; (2) a primary school; (3) a primary health center; and (4) an agricultural credit cooperative (the lowest tier of the Indian government’s agricultural credit network).

Using these data, we come to two main findings. First, overall the adoption of NREGS was associated with a large reduction violent incidents and deaths, especially over the long run. To provide a back-of-the-envelope calculation of the size of the pacifying effects, consider the total levels of violence observed in 2008: 619 violent incidents resulting in 751 deaths. According to our regression estimates, counter-factually without the adoption of NREGS across districts, levels of total violence would have been 1,440 violent incidents resulting in 2,030 deaths suggesting that the program eliminated roughly 821 potential violent incidents and 1,279 casualties across districts in that year.

Second, these effects were concentrated in districts with high levels of state capacity. Our analysis of heterogeneous effects suggests that the violence-reducing effects of NREGS were concentrated almost entirely in the top two quartiles of districts in terms of state capacity. In the districts in the bottom two quartiles of state capacity, the program had essentially no impact on violence at all.

What conclusions do we draw? First, NREGS has probably played an important role in the long-term pacification of the Maoist conflict in India. Second, one reason for the mixed evidence from the program evaluation literature on the impact of development programs on violence is that the pacifying effects of anti-poverty programs depend heavily on state capacity, which can vary considerably across and within countries. Indeed, other recent studies have come to similar conclusions – that development programs can reduce violence, but primarily in areas where the state possesses a monopoly of violence and has the capacity to carry out its developmental activities without rebel subversion.[5]

To reduce violence, therefore, policymakers need to encourage not only development through anti-poverty programs, but also the strengthening of bureaucratic and state capacity.


Beath, A., F. Christia, and R. Enikolopov, (2013); “Winning Hearts and Minds Through Development: Evidence from a Field Experiment in Afghanistan.” Paper presented at the 110th Annual Meeting of the American Political Science Association, August, Chicago.

Blattman, C., J.C. Jamison, and M. Sheridan, (2017); “Reducing Crime and Violence: Experimental Evidence from Cognitive Behavioral Therapy in Liberia.” American Economic Review 107(4): 1165-1206.

Blattman, C., and E. Miguel, (2010); “Civil war.” Journal of Economic Literature 48(1): 3-57.

Crost, B., J. Felter, and P. Johnston, (2014); “Aid Under Fire: Development Projects and Civil Conflict.” American Economic Review 104(6): 1833-56.

Sexton, R., (2016); “Aid as a Tool Against Insurgency: Evidence from Contested and Controlled Territory in Afghanistan.” American Political Science Review 110(4): 731-749.


[1] Blattman and Miguel (2010).

[2] Beath, Christia, and Enikolopov (2013).

[3] Blattman, Jamison, and Sheridan (2017).

[4] Crost, Felter, and Johnston (2014).

[5] Sexton (2016).


Workshop on Economics of Crime to be held in Medellin, Colombia on 22-23 May 2019

The Research Institute for Development, Growth and Economics (RIDGE), the LACEA’s America Latina Crime and Policy Network (AL CAPONE) and EAFIT are pleased to announce a call for papers for the RIDGE/LACEA-AL CAPONE Workshop on Economics of Crime to be held in Medellin, Colombia on 22-23 May 2019.

The deadline for submission is 15 February 2019

The AL CAPONE brings together economists and other social scientists from Latin America and the Caribbean and other parts of the world doing cutting-edge research on the Economics of Crime. AL CAPONE’s goal is to foster research using state-of-the-art techniques in order to advance the nowledge on the Economics of Crime in Latin America. In addition, the network promotes discussion and exchange of ideas between policymakers and researchers, in an attempt to generate positive feedbacks between policy and academia.

RIDGE is an initiative of the International Economic Association (IEA).

The RIDGE Forums aim to favor the spread of high quality research in economics by bringing policymakers together top local and regional researchers working on the frontier of knowledge. Participants to the six workshops are welcome to attend the other workshops.

Paper submission

Full papers, written in English, must be submitted for consideration for the meeting. The cover page should include: the title of the paper, institutional affiliation, including address, phone and email of each author and an abstract with the appropriate JEL classification.

Each author can submit and present at most one paper.

Full papers, in PDF format, should be submitted online via the RIDGE website:

Paper submission

Important dates:

Deadline for paper submission: February 15, 2019

Notification of decisions: March 15, 2019

Further information

Should you have any questions please contact:


For more information about RIDGE see:


Postdoctoral Fellow Harvard University

Urban Studies and Planning
Sociology – General
Government – Policy/Public Affairs
Economics – General
Social Sciences – General

The Harvard Center for Population and Development Studies is now accepting applications for the David E. Bell Postdoctoral Fellowship. This interdisciplinary, postdoctoral training program is designed for researchers and practitioners in the field of population sciences. In addition to self-directed research and writing, fellows participate in weekly work-in-progress sessions, leadership skill building seminars, and communications & media skills training. We offer a competitive salary, benefits, and  research/travel funds. The deadline to apply is Monday, December 3, 2018.


Harvard University provides equal opportunity in employment for all qualified persons and prohibits discrimination in employment on the basis of race, color, religion, creed, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, national origin, ancestry, age, veteran status, disability unrelated to job requirements, genetic information, military service, or other protected status. All personnel actions, including but not limited to those relating to compensation, benefits, transfers, layoffs, return from layoff, training, education, and tuition assistance are based on the principle of equal employment opportunity. Each administrative officer of the University is responsible for ensuring that individuals are afforded equal opportunity and are not denied access to these benefits.

Tenure-Track, Assistant Professor in International Development and Economic Policy, Texas A&M University – College Station

The Department of International Affairs in the Bush School of Government and Public Service at Texas A&M University invites applications and nominations for a tenure-track, assistant professor position in the broad area of International Development and Economic Policy. We are open to the candidate’s area of expertise, which may include development economics, politics and institutions of developing countries, international political economy, comparative political economy, and other relevant areas. We welcome applicants with different regional expertise, with a preference for those focusing on Latin America. The successful candidate is expected to have a strong research portfolio commensurate with their academic trajectory, and teach at least one section of the required course in introductory-level quantitative methods and an intermediate quantitative methods course. Bush School faculty exclusively teach master’s degree graduate students in international affairs in a standard 2-2 load. Additional information about the Bush School and department is available at http://bush.tamu.edu.

Applicants must have a Ph.D. in Political Science, Economics, or Public Policy by September 2019. The individual selected will demonstrate a strong commitment to teaching and research in the context of a public policy graduate school environment. The start date for this position will be September 1, 2019.

Applications must be made through the Texas A&M Workday website. Applicants who currently are not a Texas A&M System employee please go to our external career site at https://tamus.wd1.myworkdayjobs.com/TAMU_External.
Applicants who currently are a Texas A&M System employee please go to our internal career site at https://jobs.tamu.edu/internal-applicants/.

Applicants should upload a formal letter of interest that includes reference to the position, a curriculum vitae and a sample of written work. Additionally, please have three letters of recommendation sent to:

Professor Gregory Gause
c/o Ms. Janeen Wood (preferably as electronic attachments to )
The Bush School of Government & Public Service
Texas A&M University
4220 TAMU
College Station, TX 77843-4220

The review of applications will begin September 20, 2018, and will continue until the position is filled.

The Texas A&M System is an Equal Opportunity/Affirmative Action/Veterans/Disability
Employer committed to diversity.

Faculty Positions in Humanities and Social Sciences Indian Institute of Technology Gandhinagar

We at IIT Gandhinagar (IITGN) have embarked on an ambitious journey to be the best Institution in India and among the best in the world. The institute takes an uncompromising position when recruiting its faculty members. We are keen on recruiting those individuals who have demonstrated excellence in research and teaching, and show great promise in continuing to do so. Individuals whose work is interdisciplinary in nature are particularly encouraged to apply. We receive applications throughout the year (without a set deadline). You may apply when you feel you are ready.

Applications are welcome in ALL (including Political Science, International Relations, Sociology, History, Media and Film Studies, Public Health, Demography, Comparative Literature and Philosophy, Civilization Studies, Indian Heritage, History of Science) areas of Humanities and Social Sciences. However, candidates specializing in Sociology (both Quantitative and Qualitative), Economics/Development Economics, Geography and Cultural Studies are especially encouraged to apply.

Some advantages of a faculty position at IITGN are:
Unparalleled research support
 Generous start-up grants that theoretically have no upper limit
 Separate budget for procuring high-end research infrastructure
 Schemes to attract top-quality PhD students (higher scholarship and early offers)
 Extra travel support to faculty and students

Innovative Curriculum
 World Education Award (2013) for IITGN education model
 Emphasis on project-based learning and entrepreneurship
 Emphasis on humanities and the arts
 International exposure to students

A stimulating work environment
 Modern, world-class, riverfront campus
 Spacious on-campus housing for faculty
 On-site daycare center
 Located in a vibrant hub of renowned academic institutes

Online Rolling Advertisement (with more details):


Qualifications and Pay Scales:

FAQ for Prospective Faculty

For any questions about the application process, please feel free to contact us at .

Assistant Professor, Microeconomics University at Buffalo, The State University of New York

The Department of Economics at the University at Buffalo, The State University of New York, seeks to hire a microeconomist (we are open to any field within microeconomics) who can teach at the undergraduate, masters and PhD levels, and is an active researcher with the potential to excel in publication and build a strong scholarly reputation in economics.

Responsibilities of an Assistant Professor (tenure-track, academic-year commitment) include:

    • developing an independent research program
    • teaching 2 courses per semester (4 per year); mentoring graduate students
    • participating in service at the department, university, and discipline levels

The Department plans to interview at the January 2019 AEA meetings in Atlanta, GA. If you have questions, please email them to  and indicate Posting Number F1800145 in the subject of the email.

The University at Buffalo is an affirmative action/equal opportunity employer and, in keeping with our commitment, welcomes all to apply including veterans and individuals with disabilities.

Priority consideration will be given to applications received by December 1, 2018. All application materials should be submitted via UB Jobs. Application materials submitted directly to the posting contact will not be acknowledged and cannot be considered.

Posting Details

Sidney Meyer Chair in International Economics

The Department of Economics at Grinnell College invites applications to the Sidney Meyer Chair in International Economics beginning Fall 2019. The appointment will preferably be made at the rank of Professor; Associate Professor possible. We will consider promising individuals from both academic and non-academic institutions who have documented teaching experience. The position involves a teaching load of three courses per year and the expectation of research in international economics. Research and teaching interests in all areas of international economics will be considered. Adjacent specialities such as economic development, international relations and political economy, economic impacts of globalization, and comparative economic systems may also be considered.

In letters of application, candidates should discuss their potential to contribute to a college community that maintains a diversity of people and perspectives as one of its core values. To be assured of full consideration, all application materials should be received by December 1, 2018. Please visit our application website at https://jobs.grinnell.edu to find more details about the job and submit applications online. Candidates will need to upload a letter of application, curriculum vitae, transcripts (copies acceptable), and provide email addresses for three references. Questions should be directed to Professor William Ferguson at EconSearch@grinnell.edu or ++1-641-269-3173.

  • Application deadline: 12/01/2018
Reference Instructions:
Candidates will provide email addresses for three references when submitting their application. Referees will receive an email from Grinnell College with instructions for uploading letters of recommendation.

Apply for this job (link)

Assistant / Associate Professor in Applied Microeconomics

IÉSEG School of Management invites applications for one full-time position in Empirical Microeconomics at the Assistant or Associate Professor level starting in September 2019. The selected candidate will be based at the IÉSEG campus in Paris, and work in close collaboration with a research team specializing in labour, migration and family economics as well as firm level analysis.


  • IÉSEG is AACSB, EQUIS and AMBA accredited and is a member of the “Conférence des Grandes Écoles.”
  • The IÉSEG Research Center is accredited by the French National Council for Scientific Research (CNRS).
  • IÉSEG’s faculty is very diverse with more than 40 different nationalities represented.
  • IÉSEG offers Bachelor’s, Master’s, and Specialized Master’s degrees, as well as Executive Education programs.

IÉSEG has campuses in Lille and Paris.  The Lille Campus is in the heart of the city and the Paris Campus is located in Europe’s biggest business district of “La Défense.” More information about the School can be found at http://www.ieseg.fr/en


The candidate is expected to possess effective teaching skills and willingness to teach courses in quantitative methods, as well as have a strong commitment to research excellence. In line with IÉSEG’s philosophy, he/she should also display a high level of team spirit. The successful candidate will conduct research, teach at undergraduate and postgraduate levels and also contribute to the design and development of the Department’s programs.

Applicants for the position of Assistant Professor should hold a PhD or be very close to its completion and have the potential to conduct high-quality research. Applicants for the position of Associate Professor should possess a PhD and be able to provide significant evidence of publications in reputable academic journals.

Applicants should be completely fluent in English as all courses will be taught in this language. Prior knowledge of French is not required.


Housing search assistance is provided by IÉSEG. Employees receive French social security benefits, complementary health insurance, and a contributory pension scheme. The School also provides French language tutoring to its faculty members.


Interested applicants need to fill out the application form available at http://ieseg.az1.qualtrics.com/jfe/form/SV_5BI3hf7utcGLlit  and upload their application package, consisting  of the cover letter, curriculum vitae (mentioning the names, affiliations, and email addresses of three referees), research statement, teaching statement, and teaching evaluations for the past year, merged into a single PDF document bearing the applicant’s name and the reference code “ECO19” reserved for this opening.

For any further question, please contact us by e-mail at



More Information / Apply Now