Abstract: This paper investigates the impact of a rapidly spreading epidemic on civil violence in the context of the largest Ebola outbreak in history, in Western Africa. The identification strategy relies on the epidemiological features of the Ebola Virus Disease (EVD). We exploit the dynamics of the disease and weekly frequency data at the local level to analyze the effect of new infections on riots, protests and violence against institutional authorities. The impacts are large, localized and tied to containment efforts. The results suggest that state coercion and demand for public goods are mechanisms fueling conflict. The epidemic requires a change in cultural practices which leads to social unrest, especially for groups facing higher costs of cultural adaptation, low trust in institutional authorities and depending on the response of the state. This further deepens mistrust in institutions after the epidemic, especially among these communities. The paper contributes to a growing literature on conflict by providing light into mechanisms triggering civil violence in weak institutional settings.
Ada is a PhD candidate in Economics at the European University Institute. She spent the last two years at the University of California, Berkeley,as a Visiting Research Scholar. Her primary fields are development economics and political economy; her secondary field is health economics or applied microeconomics.
Her research is on conflict and cultural change in weak institutional settings and interactions with humanitarian aid and the spread of disease, using quasi-experimental designs, spatial data and extensive data collection in Western Africa.