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Content archived on 2024-06-18

Social Conflict and Household Welfare: Evidence from India


Social conflicts across the world, ranging from civil wars to riots, violent protests and industrial disputes, have affected millions of people and have resulted in lost opportunities in terms of economic growth and human development. Conflicts may, however, not only bring disruption, but may also foster new economic activities; thereby making some people worse-off while others may become better off. Remarkably, current economic literature offers little understanding of what triggers social conflicts, why different individuals and groups participate in civil upheavals, and how episodes of conflict impact on their welfare, in terms of both benefits and costs. This is at odds with the current political need to understand what factors lead to instability and violence. This project proposes a novel economics approach to the study of the relationship between social conflict and household welfare, which combines theoretical and empirical analytical tools with the implementation of field surveys.

In doing so, it addresses three fundamental questions:
(1) What are the micro-level processes and motivations behind different types of social conflict?
(2) Why do different individuals and groups participate in civil upheavals?
(3) How do episodes of conflict impact on household welfare, in terms of both benefits and costs?

The project focuses in particular on communal riots, which may or may not result in civil wars, but are nevertheless responsible for market disruption and the destruction of livelihoods. The project investigates the case study of India, which offers a unique opportunity to understand many significant processes that lead to both the inception and end of social conflict. This data will be collect at the village- and household-level using specially designed field surveys. This dataset will constitute an important contribution to research on violent social conflicts at the household-level, as very few surveys exist worldwide that allow such analysis.

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