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For Peace and Goodwill? Using an Experimental Game and a Social Dilemma to Analyze the Effect of Desarollo y Paz in Colombia

Presenter: Luca Pellerano (Oxford Policy Management Ltd, Oxford, UK)
Chair:  Emmanuel Skoufias, Lead Economist, PRMPR

Abstract:  Several decades of conflict, rebellion and unrest severely weakened civil society in parts of Colombia. Programas Regionales de Desarollo y Paz(PRDPs) is the umbrella term used to describe the set of locally-led initiatives that aim at addressing this problem through initiatives to promote sustainable economic development and community cohesion and action.

In this work we evaluate the effects of the PRDPs on social capital and conflict management. We define social capital as the willingness to contribute to the “public good” and we measure it with a series of field experimental games. The game is structured as a typical free-rider problem with the act of contributing to the “public good” (a collective money pot) being always dominated by non-contribution. Our measures of conflict management are based on a “social dilemma”: a story about a hypothetical conflict situation that is read to respondents in third person. Listeners are expected to identify with the main character of the story and express their opinions on a set of dilemmatic decision that she is facing. This enables us to characterize three types of conflict management, differentiating individual, community based and institutional options.

Our identification strategy is based on a cuasi-experimental design with treatment status varying both across locations (PRDP treatment municipalities and matched control municipalities), and within treated locations. This data structure allows us to address the issue of community spill over effects in social capital formation. The information covers overall 4,500 households in 105 municipalities and was collected between 2006 and February 2007.

We find convincing evidence that the PRDPs enhance pro-social behaviour, favouring higher contribution to the public good in treated communities. Our results also suggest that the PRDPs create new conflict management abilities amongst the beneficiaries, promoting collective means to cope with a violent threat. Significant spill over effects are found to be operating at the community level. These preliminary findings indicate that the PRDPs are successful in their effort to regenerate the social fabric and increase social cohesion in a context of conflict.



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