Poverty Dynamics, Violent Conflict and Convergence in Rwanda


Civil war and genocide in the 1990-2000 period in Rwanda – a small, landlocked, densely populated country in Central Africa – have had differential economic impacts on the country’s provinces. The reasons for this are the death toll of the genocide, the location of battles, the waves of migration and the local resurgence of war. As a result, the labour/land and labour/capital ratios at the provincial level changed considerably during that period. Using two cross-sections, we find empirical evidence for convergence between provinces following the conflict shocks: previously richer provinces in the east and in the north of the country experienced lower, even negative, economic growth compared to the poorer western and southern provinces. This has in turn affected significantly the dynamics of household poverty in Rwanda in the same period. Using a small but unique panel of households surveyed before and after the conflict period, we find that households whose house was destroyed or who lost land ran a higher risk of falling into poverty. This was particularly the case for households who were land-rich before the genocide. We do not find this for the loss of household labour. In the latter case the effect depends on the violent or non-violent character of the loss.

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