Reintegrating and employing high risk youth in Liberia: lessons from a randomized evaluation of a landmine action agricultural training program for ex-combatants

Despite a lack of rigorous evidence, states and aid agencies encourage employment programmes to rehabilitate men who are at risk of returning to violence, in the belief that peaceful work opportunities will deter them from crime and violence. This paper presents an evaluation of a programme of agricultural training, capital inputs, and counselling for Liberians who had previously been involved in fighting and who were illegally mining or occupying rubber plantations. Men who accepted the programme were shown to increase the time they spent employed on farms. Their profits also increased as they shifted work hours away from illicit activities. Mercenary work was also reduced. Some men did not receive their capital inputs but expected a future cash transfer instead, and they reduced illicit and mercenary activities most of all. Relatively small changes in returns to peaceful work, especially future and ongoing incentives led to a change in illicit and mercenary labour supply. However, the evidence also indicates that the impacts of training alone, without capital, appear to be low.

 

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