Working Papers

The Social and Political Legacies of Wartime Sexual Violence: New Evidence from List Experiments in Democratic Republic of Congo, Liberia and Sri Lanka
(with Richard Traunmüller), under review

Wartime sexual violence is widespread across conflict zones and thought to leave a disastrous legacy for survivors, communities and nations. Yet, systematic studies on i) the prevalence and ii) the social and political consequences of wartime sexual violence are fraught with severe data limitations. Based on original individual-level survey evidence from three conflict-affected populations in Democratic Republic of Congo, Liberia and Sri Lanka, we make two contributions: First, we demonstrate the potential of list experiments for overcoming under-reporting bias and estimating population-based prevalence rates of sexual violence. Second, we estimate the effect of sexual violence on key outcomes of social and political development: civic participation, interethnic relations, and political trust. Across all three populations, exposure to wartime sexual violence increases civic participation. While interethnic relations remain largely unaffected, the impact on political trust varies across contexts. This cumulative evidence suggests that survivors are more resilient to wartime sexual violence than acknowledged in prior research and policy interventions.

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More information, better knowledge? The effects of information campaigns on aid beneficiaries’ knowledge of aid projects (with Alexander De Juan and Paul Hofman)

Aid beneficiaries know little about development interventions in their own communities. This lack of transparency and information is likely to reduce beneficiaries' ability and willingness to become active in local development. It may also dampen intended aid effects on beneficiaries' political and social attitudes. Can targeted information campaigns strengthen beneficiaries' understanding of aid projects? We test the effects of two types of interventions: the provision of information only and the combination of information & feedback opportunities. We embed these interventions in a panel-survey in rural Mali. Our information treatment is highly customized to specific local aid projects in respondents' locations and corresponds to beneficiaries ex-ante information demands. Nonetheless, two months after the campaign, we find only small treatment effects on respondents' project-specific knowledge (type, location) and no effects on their procedural knowledge (selection mechanisms). Only people with favorable ex-ante views of the state's rule adherence and self-identified non-beneficiaries tend to update their views on procedural knowledge. Finally, we find that the combined information & feedback treatment has an effect on respondents' subjective knowledge which we interpret as promising mechanisms for engaging and identifying with aid projects.

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Wartime Sexual Violence and Social and Political Resilience: Micro-Level Theory, Evidence and Implications
(with Summer Lindsey), under review

What are the social and political implications of sexual violence in civil wars? This paper advances a theory of social and political mobilization among survivors and their households that underscores the value that people place on integration in their communities. We use an original population-based survey in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo to evaluate the theory in relation to an alternative hypothesis of continued social and political exclusion. Analyses using list experiment measures of wartime sexual violence show that survivor-households engage in increased levels of social and political activities at the local level. However, findings do not hold when using conventional direct measures of wartime sexual violence. The differential findings underscore the need to theorize and account for dynamics of survey disclosure when examining the relationship between social outcomes and sensitive behaviors such as sexual violence.

Female Leaders, Regime Type and Public Goods Provision

This article starts with the observation that the share of women in parliaments has increased steadily over the last decades worldwide. Apart from the descriptive representation of women, do more women in parliament substantively affect public policy more generally? And if so how? Drawing on a rich literature that suggests women to be more prosocial than men on average, we argue that a higher share of women in parliaments increases the salience of other-regarding preferences in the legislative arena. By extension, this manifests in higher degrees of public goods policies. We refine our argument suggesting that this effect is conditional on a state’s regime type. We test our arguments with a mixed-method design. First, using time-series cross-sectional data we find that up from a share of 10%, female MPs make a substantive difference in increasing public (as opposed to private) goods provision. We also find that this effect depends on regime type and only works in democracies. Second, we use coarsened exact matching to select two cases along a most-similar systems design. The quantitative analysis lends strong support to our argument and thereby contributes to filling a gap in the literature on the substantive impact of women in politics.