June 2015

IZA DP No. 9160: Guns and Butter? Fighting Violence with the Promise of Development

There is growing awareness that development-oriented government policies may be an important counterinsurgency strategy, but existing papers are usually unable to disentangle various mechanisms. Using a regression-discontinuity design, we analyze the impact of one of the world's largest anti-poverty programs, India's NREGS, on the intensity of Maoist conflict. We find short-run increases of insurgency-related violence, police-initiated attacks, and insurgent attacks on civilians. We discuss how these results relate to established theories in the literature. The main mechanism consistent with the empirical patterns is that NREGS induces civilians to share more information with the state, improving police effectiveness.