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Maria Micaela Sviatschi — Rebel Governance and Development: The Persistent Effects of Guerrillas in El Salvador

Monday, November 28, 2022

12 p.m. – 1 p.m.

Via Zoom. Email WatsonEvents@brown.edu to request the Zoom link.

How does rebel governance affect long-term development? We investigate the economic, social, and political consequences of temporary territorial control by guerrillas during the Salvadoran Civil War. During this period, these guerrillas displaced state authorities and promoted the creation of self-governing institutions that embodied local values and openly distrusted the state and elites. Using a spatial regression discontinuity design, we show that areas once under guerrilla control have experienced worse economic outcomes over the last 20 years compared with adjacent areas then controlled by the formal state. Our results suggest that community institutions in guerrilla-controlled areas led to enduring subsistence farming and disengagement with the government. We argue that when non-state actors develop alternative governance institutions, they can lead to negative development effects through lasting norms of distrust of out-groups.

Maria Micaela Sviatschi is an assistant professor of economics at Princeton University. Her research interests are labor and development economics, with a focus on human capital, gender-violence and crime.

Security Studies Seminar

The format of the seminar is a brief (5-minute) introduction by the author, some initial comments by a lead discussant (5-10 minutes), and then open comments from attendees (remainder of time). All attendees are expected to read the paper ahead of time, as the author will not present their research. This is a working session. Email watsonevents@brown.edu to request a copy of the paper.