Givers of great dinners know few enemies: The impact of household food sufficiency and food sharing on low intensity interhousehold and community conflict in Eastern Democratic Republic of Congo


Our study establishes a linkage between household level food sufficiency and food sharing with the reduction of low intensity micro level conflict using primary data from 1763 households of Eastern Democratic Republic of Congo. We collect categorized experiences of household and community level disputes and altercation information, along with food sufficiency and food sharing data from communities of North Kivu. Based on previous academic work we formulate two primary research questions. First, we ask if food sufficient households are less likely to engage in low intensity individual and community level conflict. Next, we ask if there are heterogeneous effects of food sufficiency on interhousehold and community level conflict, conditional on food sharing. Using propensity score matching, we find that household food sufficiency status reduces probability of conflict with other households and groups within the community by an average of around 10 percentage points. However, upon conditioning on food sharing behavior, we find that food sufficient households that share their food reduce their probability of conflict by 13.8 percentage points on average while the effects disappear for households who do not share their food. We conclude that food sufficiency reduces low intensity interhousehold and community conflict only in the presence of such benevolence. Our results hold through a rigorous set of robustness checks including doubly robust estimator, placebo regression, matching quality tests and Rosenbaum bounds for hidden bias. While most literature studies information on violent conflict, our effort focuses on various facets of interhousehold and community conflicts that until now have been mostly unexplored. Our findings show that food sufficiency cannot reduce social altercations unless accompanied by benevolent behavior. As such, our approach can offer new insights to development researchers and practitioners with measuring and studying low intensity household and community conflict.

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