Military and Civic Action Programs and the Development of Local Economy and Civic Institutions
U.S. military and civic action programs in weakly institutionalized societies, such as Vietnam and Afghanistan, have been central to U.S. foreign policy over the past half-century. These have been among the most costly expenditures in the U.S. federal budget and may have important national security consequences. Yet rigorous evidence about how different expenditures influence security, governance, civic engagement, and economic outcomes -- in the short and long run -- remains limited. The investigators will examine these questions using statistical data and opportunities for analysis provided by the Vietnam War. This project aims to provide clear, rigorous empirical findings to policymakers and military planners and to encourage academic research on the Vietnam War by making all data publicly available.
It is difficult to estimate the causal impacts of U.S. military and civic action programs on the development of local economy and civic institutions, because regions where interventions occur are typically very different from those where they do not, and randomized evaluations are often unfeasible. Moreover, data about local governance and civil society rarely exist for a large number of locations, due to the high cost involved in collecting such information. Through extensive archival research, the investigators have produced detailed data and novel opportunities for identification that can shed light on the causal impacts of military actions in South Vietnam. This project will examine the bombing of civilian population centers by exploiting discontinuities in an algorithm used to target air strikes. This project will also empirically explore two alternative strategies for the development of local economy and civic institutions: civic action programs that combined ground troop deployment with participatory development aid, and psychological operations that aimed to change how South Vietnamese citizens thought about the state and the communist insurgency.
This project is supported by the National Science Foundation under grant number 1628867.
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- Author: Shane Greenstein