``Reducing Insurgent Support among At-Risk Populations: Experimental Evidence from Cash Transfers and Livelihood Training in Afghanistan.''



Governments, militaries, and aid agencies use economic interventions to win "hearts ands minds" among vulnerable populations in wartime. Yet rigorous evidence of whether these programs can reduce support for insurgents remains scarce. We experimentally evaluate a program of livelihood training and one-time unconditional cash transfers on combatant support among 2,579 at-risk youths in Kandahar, Afghanistan. Employing survey methodologies for sensitive questions, we find that training alone has little effect on attitudes towards combatants. Cash initially increases pro-government sentiment, but these effects dissipate by seven months. When combined with livelihood training, cash increased support for the Afghan government while marginally decreasing pro-Taliban sentiment. Our evidence suggests that combatant support is mostly driven by political dynamics, including politicians' ability to capture credit for delivering the program itself, rather than opportunity costs of rebellion. (Last Revised, September 2017)

© Kosuke Imai
 Last modified: Sat Sep 9 22:34:47 EDT 2017