War and Local Institutions in Sierra Leone

Type Working Paper
Title War and Local Institutions in Sierra Leone
Publication (Day/Month/Year) 2006
URL http://cega.berkeley.edu/assets/miscellaneous_files/wgape/10_BellowsMiguel.pdf
Scholars of economic development have argued that war may have adverse impacts on later economic performance by destroying physical capital, disrupting human capital accumulation, and damaging institutions. We study the aftermath of the brutal 1991-2002 Sierra Leone civil war. One notable aspect of this project is the availability of extensive household data on conflict experiences and local institutions (broadly defined) for Sierra Leone. We first find that a mere three years after the end of the civil war there are no lingering impacts of war violence on local socioeconomic conditions. We also find that measures of local community mobilization and collective action – including the number of village meetings and the voter registration rate – are significantly higher in areas that experienced more war violence, conditional on prewar and geographic controls. In other words, if anything areas where there was greater violence against civilians during the recent war have arguably better local collective action outcomes in the postwar period. These findings obviously speak to the remarkable resilience of ordinary Sierra Leoneans. They also echo the claims of other observers of Sierra Leone who argue that the war generated far-reaching institutional and social changes, including increased political awareness and mobilization.

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