Civil War, Reintegration, and Gender in Northern Uganda

What are the impacts of war on the participants, and do they vary by gender? Are ex-combatants damaged pariahs who threaten social stability, as some fear? Existing theory and evidence are both inconclusive and focused on males. New data and a tragic natural quasi-experiment in Uganda allow us to estimate the impacts of war on both genders, and assess how war experiences affect reintegration success. As expected, violence drives social and psychological problems, especially among females. Unexpectedly, however, most women returning from armed groups reintegrate socially and are resilient. Partly for this reason, postconflict hostility is low. Theories that war conditions youth into violence find little support. Finally, the findings confirm a human capital view of recruitment: economic gaps are driven by time away from civilian education and labor markets. Unlike males, however, females have few civilian opportunities and so they see little adverse economic impact of recruitment.