WP175: Wartime educational loss and attitudes toward democratic institutions

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Image by Africa Renewal via Flickr: Since the end of the war and the election of a female president, many Liberian girls have been encouraged to enroll in school and to broaden their horizons. Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)
Working papers
Shelley Liu

How does civil war affect society and citizen interaction with politics? Civilians who live through warfare face numerous challenges that can have permanent effects on society even after peace is achieved.

This project uses the Liberian civil wars as a case study to examine the impact of war through one channel – disruptions in education for an entire generation of children. The paper shows that negative effects of war on education and economic outcomes clash with citizen expectations for post-war democracy, leading to negative consequences for the democratization process.

Specifically, educational deficiencies in this particular generation of young adults decrease job prospects, breeding resentment against the promises of democracy. This extends to the political sphere, such that those who lost out on educational opportunities due to war exhibit lower engagement, less desire to engage with democratic processes, and a greater rejection of democracy altogether.