The 7th Annual Frank W. Woods Lecture - Conflict, Inequality and Redistribution

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Monday, October 7th, 2019

Monday, October 7, 20195:00PM - 7:00PMThe Vivian and David Campbell Conference Facility, 1 Devonshire Place
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This lecture addresses an age-old question in political economy: does government spending on welfare ensure peace? This question was at the heart of the European Welfare State model of the early 20th century, and remains relevant today in face of rising inequalities and political conflict. Despite a longstanding historical relationship between peace, democracy and the welfare state, few empirical studies to date have analyzed the causal effect of social policies in preventing or reducing political violence, or the type of policies that may be used to mitigate social conflicts and prevent their escalation into widespread violence.

We make use of a panel of 12 Latin American countries over the period between 1970 and 2010 to show that government welfare spending has led to substantial reductions in political conflict across the region. This effect is more pronounced when associated with reductions in inequality and increasing social and institutional trust. Similar results are obtained for India, the world’s largest democracy, using panel data collected between 1970 and 2011. This body of evidence suggests that, similarly to Europe at the turn of the 20th century, the implementation of adequate welfare programmes may have an important role to play in the establishment and maintenance of peace and stability in many other parts of the world.


Professor Patricia Justino is a development economist who works at the interface between Development Economics and Political Science. She is a leading international expert on political violence and development and the co-founder and co-director of the Households in Conflict Network. She is currently a Senior Research Fellow at UNU-WIDER and Professorial Fellow at the Institute of Development Studies (IDS) in Brighton, UK (on leave). Professor Justino’s research focuses on the relationship between political violence, institutional transformation, governance and development outcomes. She has led major research programmes funded by the European Commission, the UK Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) and the UK Department for International Development (DFID). She is currently PI in a ESRC large grant on the relationship between inequality, social trust and governance outcomes.

Professor Justino’s research has been published in leading international journals such as the Journal of Development Economics, Journal of Conflict Resolution, the Journal of Peace Research, and the World Bank Economic Review and is the lead author of A Micro-Level Perspective on the Dynamics of Conflict, Violence and Development (Oxford University Press). She has held several advisory positions in major international organisations, including Action Aid, DFID, FAO, UNDP, UNESCO, UNICEF, UN Women, USAID, and the World Bank. She was the director of the MICROCON research programme and deputy director of the TAMNEAC Initial Training Network. Professor Justino holds a MPhil in Economics from the University of Cambridge and a PhD in Economics from the University of London. She has held visiting positions at Harvard University (2007-2009) and the European University Institute, among others.


Jona Malile


Professor Patricia Justino
Senior Research Fellow, UNU-WIDER Professorial Fellow at the Institute of Development Studies (IDS), University of Sussex

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