Economics and Peacebuilding programs and interventions represent a growing part of the United States’ stability operations and foreign aid policy. Half of all U.S. Agency for International Development funds flow to fragile and conflict-affected states. With the growing number of conflict and humanitarian situations in the world and the shift away from “boots-on-the-ground” interventions, nonkinetic interventions such as economic programs will play an even larger role in U.S. foreign policy.
Yet the effects of economic interventions on violence and stability outcomes are largely unknown. The 2011 World Development Report, for example, states that the link between unemployment and violence is unclear and concludes that further research is needed. Broadly, how do economic interventions affect violence and stability? What mechanisms are involved? How does context matter? Which interventions are most cost-effective? Under what conditions might economic activity increase violence in a region? When should certain interventions be avoided altogether?