Dr. Pui-hang Wong

The Hearts and Minds in Conflict and Peace: The Economics of Counterinsurgency and the Psychology of Reconstruction

Year: 2017

Khalid Koser & Lutz F. Krebs


If poverty is a cause of all violent conflicts, economic development should be a powerful approach to end wars. To what extent does development make peace? Can hearts and minds be bought, as suggested by the literature? The first part of the dissertation explores the limit of the development approach of counterinsurgency. It shows how development aid can sustain conflicts and contribute to conflict diffusion when aid is captured by rebels. The second part of the dissertation examines the socio-psychological aspect of post-conflict reconstruction. It shows that it is the mental health condition, not the economic well-being of an ex-combatant, determines ex-combatants’ reintegration outcomes. Finally, this dissertation unpacks the trust-building mechanism. Contrary to what most people think, improved public services do not always buy government trust. And it is how the sense of local ownership was cultivated that matters in trust-building. Listening and responding to the demands of people are the most effective ways of restoring trust and peace.

Selected publications by Pui-hang Wong