Coloquium Rethinking Development Economics

In the paper “US food aid and civil conflict” by Nathan Nunn and Nancy Qian, the authors find that food aid shipped to countries in times of conflict or war increases the incidence and duration of the latter. They use the American wheat production as an instrument for food aid to address problems of reverse causality. According to their findings, food aid fosters civil conflicts through one channel or the other. Which channels can you think of? What implications should be drawn from this finding, if any? What should be done if aid harms more than it helps and how can this be quantified? Are the identification strategy and the instrument of this paper reliable, in the first place?
Let’s discuss about these and other questions.