Governance, Crime and Conflict Initiative Evidence Review

Lessons from randomized evaluations on managing and preventing crime, violence, and conflict.

Published: July 2019

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What are the most promising strategies for reducing crime, violence, and conflict? The past decade has seen a dramatic expansion in the experimental literature designed to help answer this question. Moving beyond evaluations of individual programs, these studies seek to advance our understanding of what drives individuals and groups towards violence and conflict and the levers at our disposal for their reduction.

This evidence review, prepared by staff at the Abdul Latif Jameel Poverty Action Lab (J-PAL) and Innovations for Poverty Action (IPA) for the Department for International Development (DFID), offers a broad review of the expansion of this literature and seeks to capture some of the emerging insights from across these studies. The review has been prepared as part of J-PAL and IPA’s Governance, Crime and Conflict Initiative (GCCI), a £12-million investment by DFID launched in 2017 to produce new research on effective policies to promote peace and good governance, reduce crime, and support individuals and communities recovering from conflict.

We reviewed the existing experimental and rigorous quasi-experimental literature for studies that help to answer six questions identified in conversation with DFID staff1:

  1. What does and does not work in policing, including community policing?
  2. What does and does not work in terms of justice provision, including criminal justice and corrections/prisons?
  3. What do RCTs tell us about how to reduce the violent behavior of individuals in high-crime or conflict settings?
  4. What do RCTs tell us about how violent organizations/groups make strategic choices between violent and non-violent action?
  5. What do RCTs tell us about what works in peacebuilding, reconciliation and community-based/alternative dispute resolution?
  6. Does RCT evidence demonstrate that including women in interventions increases stability, conflict resolution, dispute resolution or violence reduction outcomes?

For more information about the research funded through GCCI, see the Governance Initiative, Crime and Violence Initiative, and Peace & Recovery Program webpages.

1The views expressed here are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect those of the Department for International Development.