Violence, Empathy and Altruism: Evidence from the Ivorian Refugee Crisis in Liberia

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Authors Alexandra Hartman, Benjamin S. Morse
Paper Category
Paper Abstract This paper considers the legacy of violence on intergroup behavior in diverse, post- conflict context. We argue that violence can increase empathy and thereby motivate altruistic behavior toward ingroup and outgroups alike. We test our argument using data from 64 communities in the Liberia-Cote d’Ivoire border during the 2011 Ivoirian refugee crisis. Specifically, we assess the link between Liberians’ past experience with violence during the 1990-2003 Liberian civil war and their support for refugees. We find that past violence associates with higher levels of hosting ingroup and outgroup refugees — even those co-ethnic to their wartime rivals — and a higher share of refugees with health problems among those hosted. Using a conjoint experiment, we show that violence associates with less bias against outgroup refugees and greater responsiveness to refugee distress. Lastly, we show that violence associates with greater altruism among Liberians outside the refugee crisis, even in diverse communities. Our results suggests that past experience with violence can promote altruism toward ingroup and outgroup others irrespective of their nationality or ethnicity.
Date of publication 2018
Code Programming Language R

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