Rebecca J. Wolfe, J. Kurtz, B. Tesfaye

Can Economic Interventions Reduce Violence?

Reducing the growth of violent movements is a perennial challenge for the international community, in large part due to the multitude of reasons why people engage in violence. While there is limited evidence that economic programs—such as those that improve employment—by themselves can curb engagement in political violence, as shown by research by Mercy Corps and others, such interventions are still a preferred approach of numerous development actors working to promote stability in fragile and conflict-affected countries. In places such as Afghanistan, donors and development practitioners invest heavily in youth interventions focused on creating employment as one of the means to dissuade youth from supporting armed opposition groups (AOGs). Additionally, there is often a tendency to lump all types of violence together, not recognizing that political violence may require different solutions than gang-related, criminal, or interpersonal violence. Consequently, the limited amount of evidence from rigorous program impact evaluations relating to political violence makes it difficult to reach definitive conclusions about the causal link between economic conditions and political violence.

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