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Poverty Dynamics, Violent Conflict, and Convergence in Rwanda

Authors

  • Patricia Justino,

    1. Institute of Development Studies, Brighton, MICROCON, Households in Conflict Network
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  • Philip Verwimp

    Corresponding author
    1. ECARES and Centre Emile Bernheim, Solvay Brussels School of Economics and Management, Universite Libre de Bruxelles, Households in Conflict Network
    • Institute of Development Studies, Brighton, MICROCON, Households in Conflict Network
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  • Note: The authors would like to thank Michigan State University for making the DSA data available, the Department of Statistics in Kigali for making the EICV data available, and the Flemish Interuniversity Council (VLIR) for a grant that enabled field work in Rwanda. We thank Robert Bates, Arjun Bedi, Macartan Humphreys, Mansoob Murshed, Michael Spagat, participants in the first annual workshop of the Households in Conflict Network in Berlin, and in seminars in Edinburgh, The Hague, Brussels, IDS, Oxford, Columbia, and Yale, one anonymous referee, and the journal's editor for very useful comments and discussions. All errors remain the responsibility of the authors.

Correspondence to: Philip Verwimp, Associate Professor, ECARES and Centre Emile Bernheim, Solvay Brussels School of Economics and Management, Universite Libre de Bruxelles, Avenue Roosevelt 42, Brussels 1050, Belgium (philip.verwimp@ulb.ac.be).

Abstract

This paper analyzes the poverty impact of the violent events that affected Rwanda in the 1990s. The main objective of the paper is to identify systematically potential mechanisms linking violent conflict with changes in poverty across provinces and households in Rwanda before and after a decade of violence. In accordance with emerging literature on the long-term economic effects of violent conflict, we find empirical evidence for economic convergence between richer and poorer Rwandan provinces and households following the conflict shocks. 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. We do not find much evidence for an economic effect of violent deaths at the household level due to substitution effects of labor within the household. Non-violent deaths however seem to increase income per adult equivalent for the survivors. Results are shown to be robust to sample selection and IV models.

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