Shutdown policies and conflict worldwide

Nicolas BERMAN, Mathieu COUTTENIER, Nathalie MONNET and Rohit TICKU


We provide evidence on the impact of Covid-19 restriction policies on conflicts worldwide. We combine daily information on conflict events and government policy responses to limit the spread of coronavirus to study how demonstrations and violent events vary following shutdown policies. We use the staggered implementation of restriction policies across countries to identify the dynamic effects in an event study framework. Our results show that imposing a nationwide shutdown reduces the number of demonstrations, which suggests that public demonstrations are hampered by the rising cost of participation. However, the reduction is short-lived, as the number of demonstrations are back to their pre-restriction levels in two months. In contrast, we observe that the purported increase in mobilization or coordination costs, following the imposition of Covid-19 restrictions, has no impact on violent events that involve organized armed groups. Instead, we find that the number of events, on average, increase slightly following the implementation of the restriction policies. The rise in violent events is most prominent in poorer countries, with higher levels of polarization, and in authoritarian countries. We discuss the potential channels that can explain this heterogeneity.

Read the working paper