Examining the relationship between economic opportunity and violence

The newest World Development Report, released by the World Bank, presents some interesting findings about the nature of the relationship between economic development and violence. Previously, a lack of economic development was one of many factors that led to violence in failing or failed states, but this new report finds that increasingly a lack of economic opportunity is the key factor in causing violence in these countries. The Economist, in an article discussing these findings, cites what is known as the “poverty trap” and now the “violence trap” as key obstacles to overcoming poverty:

Farmers do not buy fertilizer even though they know it will produce a better harvest. If there is no road, they reason, their bumper crop will just rot in the field. The way out of such a trap is to build a road. And if poor countries cannot build it themselves, rich donors should step in. Yet the World Development Report suggests that the main constraint on development these days may not be a poverty trap but a violence trap. Peaceful countries are managing to escape poverty—which is becoming concentrated in countries riven by civil war, ethnic conflict and organized crime. Violence and bad government prevent them from escaping the trap.

How can aid and economic development then transcend these traps? The Economist offers several suggestions – first, that violence prevention and conflict resolution be given greater importance and subsequently a restoration of peoples’ faith in government is essential. Furthermore, to solve these conflicts will require many more actors involved rather than just soldiers and governments – international aid workers and organizations must also be involved. Finally, the magazine asserts that patience is perhaps the most important requirement in overcoming both the violence and the poverty.




About CTED

CTED, as part of the New York University Abu Dhabi Research Grant, is a multidisciplinary research lab that focuses on combining economic principles, technological advances, and human-centric design to create innovative solutions for the problems experienced in emerging regions.
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