Innovations for Poverty Action’s Peace & Recovery (P&R) competitive research fund supports randomized evaluations and related research on reducing violence and fragility, promoting peace, and preventing, managing, and recovering from crises. The program supports policy-relevant studies that develop, illustrate, or test fundamental theories of peace, violence, and recovery, especially those that challenge common beliefs, pioneer innovative interventions, and produce evidence where little currently exists. To date, we have funded over 80 projects in approximately 30 countries.
By the year 2030, roughly two thirds of the world’s population living in extreme poverty could be in fragile settings. Innovations for Poverty Action’s Peace & Recovery Program (P&R) aims to improve outcomes for conflict- and crisis-affected populations by building the evidence base on reducing violence and fragility, promoting peace, and preventing, managing, and recovering from crisis. The program prioritizes studies that develop, illustrate, or test fundamental theories of peace, violence, and recovery, especially those that are highly policy-relevant, challenge common beliefs, pioneer innovative interventions, and produce evidence where little currently exists.
Despite the potential of intergroup contact, there is little rigorous evidence about whether it can build lasting real-world behavior change in areas affected by conflict and ethnic violence. Evidence on the extent to which this tolerance can extend outside the intervention, or spillover to others in the community, is likewise sparse. To test whether positive and cooperative contact can improve relations across groups in post-conflict communities, Salma Mousa (Yale) randomly assigned displaced Christians either to play with Muslims, or fellow Christians, through a two-month soccer league in an ISIS-affected area of Iraq.
Can intergroup contact build social cohesion after war? This study randomly assigned Iraqi Christians displaced by the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) to an all-Christian soccer team or to a team mixed with Muslims. The intervention improved behaviors toward Muslim peers: Christians with Muslim teammates were more likely to vote for a Muslim (not on their team) to receive a sportsmanship award, register for a mixed team next season, and train with Muslims six months after the intervention. The intervention did not substantially affect behaviors in other social contexts, such as patronizing a restaurant in Muslim-dominated Mosul or attending a mixed social event, nor did it yield consistent effects on intergroup attitudes. Although contact can build tolerant behaviors toward peers within an intervention, building broader social cohesion outside of it is more challenging.