How to Foster Growth in Post-Conflict Settings? Evidence from the Truth and Reconciliation Commission in Post-Apartheid South Africa

Thomas Gautier and Gianluca Russo

This project has been retired

Small Research Grant

Post-conflict countries tend to have fragile and stagnant economies, making development a challenge and often resulting in a return to conflict. One of the most common ways to break this cycle of conflict and to promote peace and trust is through Truth and Reconciliation Commissions (TRCs), but little is known about the impacts of TRCs on the economy and structural change. In an effort to link these two ideas, this project considers the post-Apartheid TRCs in South Africa. The TRC in South Africa had considerable implications on the country, in part due to the large media coverage it received, and the research team seeks to understand if these impacts translated to economic growth through channels of improved intergroup relationships and higher trust towards central government.

To better understand the impacts of the TRC in South Africa, the research team compiles multiple sources of data including TV coverage of TRC reports, which varied throughout the country based on signal reception. The village-level variation is linked to other data on employment, wages, and education, and additional household surveys to understand which sectors of the economy were most impacted by TRC coverage. Additionally, the researchers will incorporate data on intergroup contact such as segregation and intermarriage and data on voting, trust levels, and politics to determine if the TRC varied the economic outlook and job prospects of various groups along these lines.

Truth and Reconciliation Commissions are popular in many post-conflict settings, and South Africa, being the most well-known and documented example provides policymakers with a detailed case study. A common criticism of TRCs is that they promote peace without promoting economic growth. Knowledge gained about the impacts of the TRC in South Africa can help policymakers to be more effective in post-conflict settings to ensure that both social reconciliation and economic growth are occurring. This also brings awareness to how the needs for fostering economic growth of post-conflict societies can dramatically differ from other low- or middle-income countries and can be applicable to many cases outside of South Africa.

Research Team

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