The Growler

Researching the political economy of civil war prevention and reconstruction

Mary Atta-Dakwa ’18 and Johannes Karreth reflect on each other’s research on the role of the international community in preventing civil wars and helping rebuild countries after civil war. Hosted by the Department of Politics and International Relations.


Highlights: 

  • Mary Atta-Dakwa’s interdisciplinary honors thesis in Applied Economics and International Relations investigated the role of economic growth/development of Rwanda during its post-war reconstruction, following the genocide in 1994.
  • Using a statistical analysis of economic growth patterns over time, Atta-Dakwa finds that foreign aid alone did not have a strong effect on economic growth, but in the presence of an effective government aid is robustly associated with a growing Rwandan economy.
  • Johannes Karreth’s new book Incentivizing Peaceshows how the international community can help prevent civil wars in the first place.
  • He emphasizes the role of highly structured IGOs such as the World Bank, Inter-American Development Bank, or the Economic Community of West African States. These institutions can provide incentives to governments and dissidents to settle political disputes peacefully, without resorting to massive violence. Evidence from all political conflicts between 1946-2000 and select cases shows that conflicts in countries with more connections to highly structured IGOs faced a considerably lower risk of escalation to civil wars.
  • Both projects suggests that the international community can play a positive role in violence prevention and post-conflict reconstruction, but their impact depends on national governments and institutionalized incentives.

Mary Atta-Dakwa ’18 graduated as a double major in Applied Economics and International Relations, and a minor in Spanish. Her honors thesis “Aiding to Repair: An Analysis on the Impact of Foreign Aid in Rwanda After the 1994 Genocide” was supervised by Dr. Annie Karreth (Politics) and Dr. Olga Nicoara (Business & Economics). She also served as head delegate to the Ursinus College delegation to the National Model United Nations conference in 2018.

Johannes Karreth (Ph.D., University of Colorado Boulder) is an assistant professor of Politics and International Relations. He specializes in the study of international institutions and examines their role in resolving conflicts in different issue areas. His classes at Ursinus includeMarkets, Money & Migration, War and Peace, and Terrorism & Political Violence. He also advises the Model United Nations program, facilitating student’s participation in the annual National Model United Nations conference in New York City.