Date of Award

Fall 12-17-2015

Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



First Advisor

James C. Cox

Second Advisor

Robert E. Moore

Third Advisor

Kurt Schnier

Fourth Advisor

Volkan Topalli


This dissertation uses varying approaches to examine effects of war on communities and individuals in developing countries, specifically in Liberia, West Africa. The first essay, based on work published jointly with Robert E. Moore in 2012, uses a case study of Saclepea, Liberia, to illustrate the role that an appropriately designed local economic development (LED) plan can play in a rural African community emerging from crisis. This case demonstrates the need for the involvement and cooperation of many parties. Clear understanding of the stage of assistance helps to define the role of each entity. This case confirms that local participation in development efforts is an important factor in the success of these efforts.

The second essay compares post-war earnings and educational attainment of former child soldiers, adult soldiers, and non-soldiers in post-war Liberia. The results indicate that the war in Liberia had different effects on soldiers than on non-soldiers, but effects for soldiers do not differ greatly between those who fought as children and those who fought as adults. Lasting effects for former soldiers do not, in sum, seem to be negative.

Third, I take an experimental approach to understanding trust and trustworthiness among former child soldiers in Liberia. Liberian subjects’ decisions in the standard investment game indicate that former child soldiers do not differ in trusting behavior from other subjects. Non-soldiers are less trusting than adult soldiers, and child soldiers are less trustworthy than adult soldiers. Among only child soldiers, those who had only witnessed violence are more trustworthy than those who had been victims of violence. Liberians in this experiment tend to trust more than Americans who played the same investment game previously.

The final essay examines many instances of the same investment game to explore how violence affects trusting and trustworthy behaviors and how those behaviors affect a country’s level of peacefulness. I find that a macroeconomic peace index can predict trust but not trustworthiness. Trustworthiness does affect peacefulness.