Over at the European Comission’s Micro-Level Analysis of Conflict (MICROCON), scholars have been working through the impact of war on long-term decision making. In Burundi, war causes increased sustainable farming and agricultural portfolio diversification. According to Eleonora Nillesen and Philip Verwimp’s “A Phoenix in Flames? Portfolio Choice and Violence in Civil War in Rural Burundi”:
The paper demonstrates that contrary to the conventional idea that wars are “development in reverse” war can change people’s paradigms and leave them less myopic then before. Using three unique household and community samples from Burundi we find that households exposed to high levels of violence during the Burundi war are increasingly likely to have portfolios shifted towards more sustainable, and more profitable activities than others. We also find that income shares from export crop farming are larger for those living in previously violent areas although results are confined to the cross-sectional models.
Studying portfolio decisionsprovides insights into future development paths. If, for example farmers indeed revertback to subsistence agriculture and grow crops that require low inputs (such ascassava) but that are also prone to diseases and yield low returns, households may notbe able to escape poverty and the country may face a high risk of falling back into acycle of violence. If, on the other hand violence induces more profitable investmentsand (or resulting from) increased cooperation and trust, economic and institutionaldevelopment may be accelerated and Burundi’s prospects of sustainable peace aremuch higher.
Check out the full working paper here.