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Aid, minds and hearts: The impact of aid in conflict zones

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JournalConflict Management and Peace Science
DatePublished - Nov 2013
Issue number5
Pages (from-to)411-432
Original languageEnglish


It is widely assumed that development aid can help to stabilize regions in or after conflict. However, we lack empirical evidence for this assumption, and the assumed causal mechanisms are poorly specified. We conducted a micro-level longitudinal study of 80 communities in northeast Afghanistan between 2007 and 2009 and investigated the impact of aid on (perceived) security. We also investigated two possible causal mechanisms that may link aid to security: whether aid has an impact on attitudes toward international civilian and military actors (“hearts and minds”) and whether aid can help to increase the legitimacy of the state (“state reach”). While we find that aid neither increases perceived security nor fosters more positive attitudes toward international actors, we also find that aid is positively correlated with state legitimacy.

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