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From Violence to Voting: War and political participation in Uganda


  • Christopher Blattman



What is the political legacy of violent conflict? This paper presents evidence for a link between war, violence and increased individual political participation and leadership among former combatants and victims of violence, and uses this link to understand the deeper determinants of individual political behavior. The setting is northern Uganda, where rebel recruitment methods generated quasi-experimental variation in who became a rebel conscript and who did not. Original survey data shows that the exogenous element of conscription (by abduction) leads to significantly greater political participation later in life. The principal determinant of this increased political participation, moreover, appears to be war violence experienced. Meanwhile, abduction and violence do not appear to affect multiple non-political types of community participation. I show that these patterns are not easily explained by models of participation based on simple rational preferences, social preferences, mobilization by elites, or information availability. Only ‘expressive’ theories of participation appear consistent with the patterns observed, whereby exposure to violence augments the value a person places on the act of political expression itself. The mplications for general theories of political participation are discussed.

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  • Christopher Blattman, 2008. "From Violence to Voting: War and political participation in Uganda," Working Papers 138, Center for Global Development.
  • Handle: RePEc:cgd:wpaper:138

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    Cited by:

    1. Mayra Buvinic & Monica Das Gupta & Ursula Casabonne & Philip Verwimp, 2013. "Violent Conflict and Gender Inequality: An Overview," World Bank Research Observer, World Bank Group, vol. 28(1), pages 110-138, February.
    2. Patricia Justino, 2012. "Shared Societies and Armed Conflict: Costs, Inequality and the Benefits of Peace," Working Papers 2012/35, Maastricht School of Management.
    3. Dominic Rohner & Mathias Thoenig & Fabrizio Zilibotti, 2013. "Seeds of distrust: conflict in Uganda," Journal of Economic Growth, Springer, vol. 18(3), pages 217-252, September.
    4. Delavande, Adeline & Zafar, Basit, 2015. "Stereotypes and Madrassas: Experimental evidence from Pakistan," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 118(C), pages 247-267.
    5. Stergios Skaperdas, 2011. "The costs of organized violence: a review of the evidence," Economics of Governance, Springer, vol. 12(1), pages 1-23, March.
    6. Maarten Voors & Eleonora Nillesen & Philip Verwimp & Erwin Bulte & Robert Lensink & Daan van Soest, 2010. "Does Conflict affect Preferences? Results from Field Experiments in Burundi," Research Working Papers 21, MICROCON - A Micro Level Analysis of Violent Conflict.
    7. Sangnier, Marc & Zylberberg, Yanos, 2017. "Protests and trust in the state: Evidence from African countries," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 152(C), pages 55-67.
    8. Ian Levely, 2012. "Measuring Intermediate Outcomes of Liberia’s DDRR Program," Working Papers IES 2012/2, Charles University Prague, Faculty of Social Sciences, Institute of Economic Studies, revised Feb 2012.
    9. Christophe Muller & Marc Vothknecht, 2011. "Group Violence, Ethnic Diversity, and Citizen Participation: Evidence from Indonesia," IDEP Working Papers 1101, Institut d'economie publique (IDEP), Marseille, France, revised May 2011.
    10. Kohler, Stefan, 2012. "More fair play in an ultimatum game after resettlement in Zimbabwe: A field experiment and a structural model," MPRA Paper 40248, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    11. Bellows, John & Miguel, Edward, 2009. "War and local collective action in Sierra Leone," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 93(11-12), pages 1144-1157, December.
    12. Jha, Saumitra & Wilkinson, Steven, 2012. "Veterans, Organizational Skill and Ethnic Cleansing: Evidence from the Partition of South Asia," Research Papers 2092, Stanford University, Graduate School of Business.
    13. Mevlude Akbulut-Yuksel & Mutlu Yuksel, 2015. "The Long-Term Direct and External Effects of Jewish Expulsions in Nazi Germany," American Economic Journal: Economic Policy, American Economic Association, vol. 7(3), pages 58-85, August.
    14. Brück, Tilman & Llussá, Fernanda & Tavares, José, 2010. "Perceptions, Expectations, and Entrepreneurship: The Role of Extreme Events," IZA Discussion Papers 5351, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    15. Minoiu, Camelia & Shemyakina, Olga N., 2014. "Armed conflict, household victimization, and child health in Côte d'Ivoire," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 108(C), pages 237-255.
    16. Aleksynska, Mariya, 2011. "Civic participation of immigrants in Europe: Assimilation, origin, and destination country effects," European Journal of Political Economy, Elsevier, vol. 27(3), pages 566-585, September.
    17. Patricia Justino & Marinella Leone & Paola Salardi, 2011. "Education and Conflict Recovery: The Case of Timor Leste," HiCN Working Papers 100, Households in Conflict Network.
    18. Sabine Kurtenbach, 2012. "Postwar Youth Violence: A Mirror of the Relationship between Youth and Adult Society," GIGA Working Paper Series 199, GIGA German Institute of Global and Area Studies.
    19. Irena Grosfeld & Alexander Rodnyansky & Ekaterina Zhuravskaya, 2010. "Persistent anti-market culture: A legacy of the Pale of Settlement and of the Holocaust," PSE Working Papers halshs-00564927, HAL.
    20. Achyuta Adhvaryu & James Fenske, 2013. "War, resilience and political engagement in Africa," CSAE Working Paper Series 2013-08, Centre for the Study of African Economies, University of Oxford.
    21. Giulia Lamattina, 2008. "Conflict Migration and Social Networks: Empirical Evidence from Sri Lanka," Rivista di Politica Economica, SIPI Spa, vol. 98(6), pages 161-194, November-.
    22. Patricia Justino, 2012. "Nutrition, Governance and Violence: A Framework for the Analysis of Resilience and Vulnerability to Food Insecurity in Contexts of Violent Conflict," HiCN Working Papers 132, Households in Conflict Network.
    23. McDougal, Topher & Caruso, Raul, 2013. "Wartime Violence and Post-Conflict Development Policy: The Case of Agricultural Concessions in Mozambique," NEPS Working Papers 1/2013, Network of European Peace Scientists.
    24. Christopher Blattman & Edward Miguel, 2010. "Civil War," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 48(1), pages 3-57, March.

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