Democracy Under the Gun: Understanding Postconflict Economic Recovery

Increasingly, scholars studying civil conflicts believe that the pace of postconflict economic recovery is crucial to a return to peaceful politics. But why do some countries’ economies recover more quickly than others’? The authors argue that the inability of politicians to commit credibly to postconflict peace inhibits investment and, hence, slows recovery. In turn, the ability of political actors to eschew further violence credibly depends on postconflict political institutions. The authors test this framework with duration analysis of an original data set of economic recovery, with two key results. First, they find that postconflict democratization retards recovery. Second, outright military victory sets the stage for a longer peace than negotiated settlements do. This research deepens the understanding of the bases of economic recovery and conflict recidivism in postconflict countries and points to future research that can augment this knowledge further still.