Civil war and social cohesion: Lab-in-the-field evidence from Nepal
Orientation towards the common good
We study effects of wartime violence on social cohesion in the context of Nepal’s 10-year civil war. We begin with the observation that violence increased levels of collective action like voting and community organization—a finding consistent with other recent studies of postconflict societies. We use lab-in-the-field techniques to tease apart such effects. Our causalidentification strategy exploits communities’ exogenous isolation from the unpredictable path of insurgency combined with matching. We find that violence-affected communities exhibit higher levels of prosocial motivation, measured by altruistic giving, public good contributions, investment in trust-based transactions, and willingness to reciprocate trustbased investments.We find evidence to support two social transformation mechanisms: (1) a purging mechanism by which less social persons disproportionately flee communities plagued by war and (2) a collective coping mechanism by which individuals who have few options to flee band together to cope with threats.