A Phoenix in Flames? Portfolio Choice and Violence in Civil War in Rural Burundi


Year: 2010 HiCN Working Paper No. 075

This paper challenges the idea that farmers revert to subsistence farming when confronted with violence from civil war. While there is an emerging macroeconomic consensus that wars are detrimental to development, we find contrasting microeconomic evidence. Using several rounds of (panel) data at the farm and community level, we find that farmers in Burundi who are confronted with civil war violence in their home communities increase export and cash crop growing activities, invest more in public goods and reveal higher levels subjective welfare evaluations. We interpret this in the light of similar recent micro-level evidence that points to post-traumatic growth effects after (civil) warfare. Our results are confirmed across specifications as well as in robustness analyses.

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