Violence leads to social cohesion and political activation: The evidence base grows

And before anyone gets irate: No, the policy conclusion is not let’s have “more violence”.

…members of communities with greater exposure to violence during Nepal’s ten-year civil war exhibit significantly greater levels of social capital, measured by subjects’ willingness to invest in trust-based transactions and contribute to a collective good.

Previous work has suggested a mechanism at the level of individuals’ preferences. We by contrast hypothesize two community-level causal mechanisms for this relationship. First according to our institutional hypothesis communities that suffered war-related violence were forced to adopt new norms that fostered pro-social behavior.

Second, our purging hypothesis conjectures that violence may have caused less pro-social individuals to flee at a higher rate than more pro-social persons, leaving a disproportionately pro-social population in violence- plagued communities. We find strong evidence for a community-level effect and no evidence for the purging hypothesis, suggesting the institutional mechanism is at work. We also find evidence for the individual-preference-based mechanism.

A new paper from Gilligan, Pasquale and Samii.

Violence can also be traumatizing. The point is that it is not solely traumatizing.

For other evidence see my paper from Uganda, Bellows and Miguel in Sierra Leone, or Voorst & Co.