Winning Hearts and Minds through Development: Evidence from a Field Experiment in Afghanistan

This study examines the effect of the National Solidarity Program on villagers’ attitudes towards their well-being and their government.

Abstract

Development programs have been increasingly used not only as an instrument for economic and political development, but also as a tool for counter-insurgency. Using a large-scale randomized field experiment in Afghanistan, we explore whether the inclusion of villages in the country’s largest development program alters perceptions of well-being, attitudes towards the government, and levels of security in surrounding areas. We find that the program has a positive effect on all three measures in relatively secure regions, but no effect on attitudes and security in areas with high levels of initial violence, suggesting that a certain minimum threshold of security has to be in place for the provision of goods and services to have an effect on improving attitudes towards the government and reducing violence.

Citation

Beath, A.; Christia, F.; Enikolopov, R. Winning Hearts and Minds through Development: Evidence from a Field Experiment in Afghanistan. Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), USA (2012) 36 pp. [MIT Political Science Department Research Paper No. 2011-14]

Winning Hearts and Minds through Development: Evidence from a Field Experiment in Afghanistan

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