International Affairs

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Experimentally testing the roots of poverty and violence: Changing preferences, behaviors, and outcomes

It is widely believed that poor and unemployed young men are more likely to fight, riot and rebel. In poor countries like Liberia, governments are especially fearful of the young, urban poor, who may be especially vulnerable to armed recruitment, rioting, or election violence. In addition to increased security, the most common policy recommendation is cash transfer and employment programs. This study uses a field experiment with high-risk young men in Liberia to answer four questions. First, is there a causal relationship between poverty and violence?

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