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Revisiting the effect of food aid on conflict : a methodological caution

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  • Christian,Paul J.
  • Barrett,Christopher B.

Abstract

A popular identification strategy in non-experimental panel data uses instrumental variables constructed by interacting exogenous but potentially spurious time series or spatial variables with endogenous exposure variables to generate identifying variation through assumptions like those of differences-in-differences estimators. Revisiting a celebrated study linking food aid and conflict shows that this strategy is susceptible to bias arising from spurious trends. Re-randomization and Monte Carlo simulations show that the strategy identifies a spurious relationship even when the true effect could be non-causal or causal in the opposite direction, invalidating the claim that aid causes conflict and providing a caution for similar strategies.

Suggested Citation

  • Christian,Paul J. & Barrett,Christopher B., 2017. "Revisiting the effect of food aid on conflict : a methodological caution," Policy Research Working Paper Series 8171, The World Bank.
  • Handle: RePEc:wbk:wbrwps:8171
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. Langlotz, Sarah & Dreher, Axel, 2015. "Aid and growth. New evidence using an excludable instrument," Annual Conference 2015 (Muenster): Economic Development - Theory and Policy 112878, Verein für Socialpolitik / German Economic Association.
    2. Stijn van Weezel, 2017. "Mostly Harmless? A Subnational Analysis of the Aid-Conflict Nexus," Working Papers 201728, School of Economics, University College Dublin.

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    Keywords

    Conflict and Fragile States;

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