Riots and Prosociality

(With K. Krakowski and M. Schaub)

Do ethnic riots affect pro-social behavior? A common view among scholars of ethnic violence is that riots increase cooperation within the warring groups, while cooperation across groups is reduced. We revisit this hypothesis by study- ing the aftermath of the 2010 Osh riot, which saw Kyrgyz from outside the city kill over 400 Uzbeks. We implement a pre-registered representative survey, which includes unobtrusive experimental measures of pro-social behavior. Our causal identification strategy exploits variation in the distance of neighborhoods to armored military vehicles, which were instrumental in orchestrating the riot. Our results demonstrate that damaged neighborhoods show substantially lower levels of pro-social behavior. Importantly, using a within-subjects design, we demonstrate that the reduction is isomorphic within and across groups. We discuss several potential mechanisms and point to social disintegration as the most likely channel. We confirm the robustness of our findings using a variety of permutation and falsification tests.

Link to paper

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