Preparing for Genocide: Quasi-Experimental Evidence from Rwanda

with Bonnier E., J. Poulsen, T. Rogall. February 2020 (Revision requested by the Journal of Development Economics, June 2020)


This paper provides evidence on how state-controlled community meetings can facilitate the mobilization of civilians into violence. We analyze a Rwandan mandatory community program that required citizens to participate in community work and political meetings every Saturday in the years before the 1994 genocide. We exploit cross-sectional variation in meeting intensity induced by exogenous weather fluctuations, and find that a one standard-deviation increase in the number of rainy Saturdays before the genocide resulted in a 17 percent lower civilian participation rate in genocide violence. The natural placebo test – rainfall on other weekdays in the same period – yields no statistically significant results. The effect is driven by the meetings in the last six months before the genocide, and we find evidence that the meetings provided an arena for the local elites to spread propaganda and bring people together. Our findings shed light on the potentially amplifying role of government-ordered community meetings in channeling mass-violence.

A popular summary of the paper can be found here.

Media (Swedish): Forskning och Framsteg


Inside the Production Function: The Effect of Financial Contracts on Growing Firms' Technology Use 
with Selim Gulesci Andreas Madestam and Francesco Loiacono, Mimeo, Stockholm University.

Randomized control trial (Uganda). Fieldwork ongoing. AEA registry number: AEARCTR-0003062. 

We examine how key aspects of the most common form of financing-debt-may inhibit young firms' expansion. Starting a business entails learning and risk taking, implying that project returns to investment can start low but increase over time (in other words, be "backloaded") or be uncertain. Also, indivisible start-up costs often require large investments. Meanwhile, standard debt contracts available for micro-entrepreneurs from the formal or semi-formal financial sectors of many developing countries (such as microfinance) stipulate a constant repayment stream and caps on the initial loan size. The interaction of such features of the loan contract and the firm's production technology, may distort investment toward inputs that involve less learning, less uncertainty, and smaller projects; hampering firm growth. To shed light on the extent to which these theoretical mechanisms limit the effectiveness of micro-loans, we designed a randomized controlled trial where randomly chosen Ugandan firm owners, accepted for a loan, were offered amended contracts designed to alleviate one of these constraints. Treated firms, as well as a control group, are followed over a period of 5 years. The project will provide unique evidence on the constraints caused by the interaction of financial structure and technology use.

Performance based incentive payment for loan officers in Microfinance, with Erika Deserranno and Lame Ungwang. Randomized Field experiment in Uganda, implementation and data collection initiated in fall 2018. Fieldwork ongoing. AEA registry number: AEARCTR-0004529. 

Rotation policies for loan officers in Microfinance, with Erika Deserranno and Lame Ungwang. 

Randomized Field experiment in Uganda, implementation and data collection initiated in fall 2018. Fieldwork ongoing. AEA registry number: AEARCTR-0004891

The anatomy of Deliberative Decision making, with Vesall Nourani and Maya Duru.

The project uses data from lab in the field experiments in farmer groups in Malawi collected in 2013-16.

© 2018 by Miri Stryjan.

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