Building Cooperation among Groups in Conflict: An Experiment on Intersectarian Cooperation in Lebanon

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Authors Han Il Chang, Leonid V. Peisakhin
Paper Category
Paper Abstract Societies divided along ethnic or religious lines suffer from persistent conflict and under-provision of public goods. Scholarly understanding of the means by which intergroup cooperation can be strengthened remains very limited. In this study, we set out to test the effectiveness of two interventions on intergroup cooperation: cross-group expert appeal and participation in a cross-group discussion. The laboratory-in-the-field experiment is set in Lebanon’s capital Beirut and involves interactions between 180 Shia and 180 Sunni Muslim participants. We find that the expert appeal increases intersectarian cooperation in settings that do not entail reciprocal exchange. The effect of group discussion is heterogeneous: on average, group discussion has no effect, but a deep substantive engagement with the other sect increases cooperation. Neither intervention diminishes the effectiveness of sectarian clientelistic appeals. The policy implication of our study is that intergroup cooperation can be strengthened even in regions as bitterly divided as the Middle East. Word Count: 9,864 words
Date of publication 2019
Code Programming Language R

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