The Long-Term Effects of Conflict on Welfare: Evidence from Burundi


Year: 2015 HiCN Working Paper No. 198

We investigate the relationship between exposure to conflict and poverty dynamics over time, using original three-waves panel data for Burundi which tracked individuals and reported local-level violence exposure from 1998 to 2012. Firstly, the data reveal that headcount poverty has not changed since 1998 while we observe multiple transitions into and out of poverty. Moreover, households exposed to the war exhibit a lower level of welfare than non-exposed households, with the difference between the two groups predicted to remain significant at least until 2017, i.e. twelve years after the conflict termination. The correlation between violence exposure and deprivation over time is confirmed in a household-level panel setting. Secondly, our empirical investigation shows how violence exposure over different time spans interacts with households’ subsequent welfare. Our analysis of the determinants of households’ likelihood to switch poverty status (i.e. to fall into poverty or escape poverty) combined with quantile regressions suggest that, (i) exposure during the first phase of the conflict has a affected the entire distribution, and (ii) exposure during the second phase of the conflict has mostly a affected the upper tail of the distribution: initially non-poor households have a higher propensity to fall into poverty while initially poor households see their propensity to pull through only slightly decrease with recent exposure to violence. Although not directly testable with the data at hand, these results are consistent with the changing nature of violence in the course of the Burundi civil war, from relatively more labour-destructive to relatively more capital-destructive.

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