Civil war and social cohesion: Lab-in-the-field evidence from Nepal

Michael J. Gilligan, Benjamin J. Pasquale, Cyrus Samii

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


    We study effects of wartime violence on social cohesion in the context of Nepal's 10-year civil war. We begin with the observation that violence increased levels of collective action like voting and community organization-a finding consistent with other recent studies of postconflict societies. We use lab-in-the-field techniques to tease apart such effects. Our causal-identification strategy exploits communities' exogenous isolation from the unpredictable path of insurgency combined with matching. We find that violence-affected communities exhibit higher levels of prosocial motivation, measured by altruistic giving, public good contributions, investment in trust-based transactions, and willingness to reciprocate trust-based investments. We find evidence to support two social transformation mechanisms: (1) a purging mechanism by which less social persons disproportionately flee communities plagued by war and (2) a collective coping mechanism by which individuals who have few options to flee band together to cope with threats.

    Original languageEnglish (US)
    Pages (from-to)604-619
    Number of pages16
    JournalAmerican Journal of Political Science
    Issue number3
    StatePublished - Jul 2014

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • Sociology and Political Science
    • Political Science and International Relations


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