NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH
NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH
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Robert Blair

Brown University
Department of Political Science
Watson Institute for International
and Public Affairs
Providence, RI 02912

E-Mail: EmailAddress: hidden: you can email any NBER-related person as first underscore last at nber dot org
Institutional Affiliation: Brown

NBER Working Papers and Publications

June 2019The Promise and Pitfalls of Conflict Prediction: Evidence from Colombia and Indonesia
with Samuel Bazzi, Christopher Blattman, Oeindrila Dube, Matthew Gudgeon, Richard Merton Peck: w25980
Policymakers can take actions to prevent local conflict before it begins, if such violence can be accurately predicted. We examine the two countries with the richest available sub-national data: Colombia and Indonesia. We assemble two decades of fine-grained violence data by type, alongside hundreds of annual risk factors. We predict violence one year ahead with a range of machine learning techniques. Models reliably identify persistent, high-violence hot spots. Violence is not simply autoregressive, as detailed histories of disaggregated violence perform best. Rich socio-economic data also substitute well for these histories. Even with such unusually rich data, however, the models poorly predict new outbreaks or escalations of violence. "Best case" scenarios with panel data fall short of ...
April 2018Engineering Informal Institutions: Long-run Impacts of Alternative Dispute Resolution on Violence and Property Rights in Liberia
with Alexandra C. Hartman, Christopher Blattman: w24482
Informal institutions govern property rights and disputes when formal systems are weak. Well-functioning institutions should help people reach and maintain bargains, minimizing violence. Can outside organizations engineer improvements and reduce violent conflicts? Will this improve property rights and investment? We experimentally evaluate a UN and civil society mass education campaign to promote alternative dispute resolution (ADR) practices and norms in rural communities, where violent land disputes are common. Prior work showed a fall in violence and unresolved disputes within one year. We return after three years to test for sustained impacts and channels. Treated communities report large, sustained falls in violent disputes and a slight shift towards nonviolent norms. Treated resident...
 
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