Extant studies of civil conflict overwhelmingly attribute its incidence to domestic factors (e.g., economic growth, ethnicity). However, in the period surrounding the end of the Cold War the incidence of civil conflict rose substantially, especially in countries that had been repressive during the Cold War. This paper presents causal evidence linking geopolitics, foreign aid, and political institutions for this uptick in conflict in the 1990s. The empirical strategy leverages both a differences-in-differences strategy and instrumental variables to demonstrate that U.S. foreign aid increased the relative likelihood of conflict in the post-Cold War period in countries with the “most repressive Cold War regimes.” On balance, the paper shows that geopolitics and foreign aid can affect political violence in developing countries.
Faisal Ahmed is a professor at Princeton University. During the 2016-17 academic year he’ll be a National Fellow at the Hoover Institution.
His research and teaching interests focus on political economy and international economics. Some of his work has been published in the American Political Science Review, American Economic Journal – Macroeconomics, Review of Economics and Statistics, and the Journal of Law, Economics, and Organization.
Prior to joining the faculty at Princeton, he was a Prize Research Fellow at Nuffield College, Oxford University. Before transitioning to academia, he spent a few years as an international and macroeconomist at the White House Council of Economic Advisers and the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago.