Call for Proposals: The Micro-Level Analysis of the Impact of Violent Conflict on Lives and Livelihoods in the MENA Region - Economic Research Forum (ERF)

Call for Proposals: The Micro-Level Analysis of the Impact of Violent Conflict on Lives and Livelihoods in the MENA Region

Call for Proposals: The Micro-Level Analysis of the Impact of Violent Conflict on Lives and Livelihoods in the MENA Region

ERF is pleased to announce a call for proposals on “The Micro-Level Analysis of the Impact of Violent Conflict on Lives and Livelihoods in the MENA Region.” Selected authors will present their papers during a workshop by June 2020. Interested researchers are invited to submit their proposals by February 15, 2020.


The MENA region is characterized by several interrelated socio-economic trends including rapidly growing populations, on average high degrees of (youth) unemployment, strong gender differences in terms of labor market participation, and political radicalization. The countries in the region often have weak and/or authoritarian central government institutions, declining public revenues from natural resources except in a few very resource-rich countries, and climate change impacts on agriculture and water management. Above all, insecurity and violent conflict of various intensity shape societies in several MENA countries directly or indirectly, via conflicts in neighboring countries. The conflicts differ in cause, nature, duration and intensity and hence have diverse and changing impacts on people. More importantly, these impacts may in turn compound the other aforementioned trends by, possibly, affecting population growth, unemployment, gender norm differentiation, political radicalization, weakening state institutions and increased needs for but reduced abilities to fund public services and infrastructures.


Despite these fundamental and interlinked societal challenges, the MENA region is comparatively under-researched in terms of applied micro-level analysis, both by economists and other social scientists. In particular, it is not very well understood how some of these security and socio-economic trends shape each other. For a given conflict, there are a multitude of topics that can be addressed, ranging from demography, social issues, health, education, labor markets and migration via agriculture, product markets and trade to social norms, attitudes and political behavior and, of course, to the role and the effectiveness of policies and interventions. Papers will be giving priority which address either the impact of conflict, insecurity and fragility on people (especially women and children) or which address the impact of women on peace-building.


The impact of conflict, insecurity and fragility on people: proposals should address how conflict impacts “victims” across these many domains. Possible research questions may include:

  1. Does the experience of conflict shape fertility, child development, educational attainment or labor market outcomes? And if so, how and for whom?
  2. What is the impact of conflict exposure on political attitudes, perceptions, preferences, subjective beliefs, norms and radicalization?
  3. How does conflict shape the participation of employees, the self-employed and farmers in markets, both formally and informally?
  4. Does conflict drive displacement of both IDPs and if so, to where and under which conditions? When do people return to their origins, if ever? And how do the experiences around displacement differ between those remaining, the displaced, the host populations and the returnees?
  5. What is the role of basic services, provided by governments, religious groups, NGOs or humanitarian organizations in shaping people’s livelihoods in times of conflict and displacement?
  6. And what is the impact of conflict on mental and physical health in the short-term, the long-term and across generations, both for people directly affected by war and those affected indirectly?
  7. Finally, what is the impact of policies, programmes and projects implemented by governments, aid agencies or NGOs on many of these outcomes in times of war or during post-war reconstruction?

The impact of women on peace-building: In situations of extreme distress, some people move beyond the role of victim and exhibit strong resilience and agency. While both men and women may become peacemakers in times of conflict, the role of women as agents of constructive and sustainable change in times of conflict has historically been under-researched and possibly under-appreciated. Hence a second stream of research could address the role of women (and perhaps of youth) in supporting peace. Possible research questions to be addressed at the workshop may include:

  1. Which women become peacemakers and under which circumstances?
  2. Which actions do women pursue to support peace?
  3. Which of their actions are particularly sustainable and long-lasting?
  4. Can norms for peace be transmitted from women to women, from women to men and across generations?
  5. What role can interventions for peace-building play in inducing or supporting women to build peace?


The micro-level analyses both of the socio-economic impact of conflict, insecurity and fragility and of the role of women for peace-building could be conducted using a variety of methods. Papers will be giving priority which adopt one or several of these methods:

Analysis of cross-sectional survey data: This is the most straightforward way to tackle the above-mentioned research questions, given that the majority of available data will have this format. However, there are challenges in achieving causal identification in this way and data may need to have unique features or be merged with other types of data to achieve good results.

Analysis of panel survey data: Where panel data exist, this offers an attractive route to high quality research, especially if this data also contains information on conflict events.

Analysis of project-specific or administrative data: Such data sources may not be representative of a population at large and they may only ask limited types of information but may offer unique opportunities to study in greater depth certain topics.

There are a number of conceptual and practical challenges to overcome in order to have strong and novel contributions to the questions posed. These are reviewed briefly below. Papers that address these challenges head on and, ideally, tackle these challenges in innovative ways will be given priority.

Identification of causal effects of conflict: This will be a key challenge. Going beyond the comparison of regions with more or less conflict (or before and after conflict) which is not really a valid or common approach, a new focus is on the measure of conflict exposure at the individual level through variables on conflict contained within the survey. Alternatively, external conflict event data can be merged with survey data, especially if both the survey data and the conflict event data are geo-coded.

Use of administrative data: Identification and access of such data is typically non-trivial. However, the workshop may be a special opportunity to use some previously underutilized archives.

Use of non-standard data: The use of novel data, especially if merged with survey data, may prove a useful way to advance this agenda, for example by merging survey data with remote sensing data or big data. Crowd-sourced or crowd-seeded data may also help overcome lack of data on conflict in some regions or periods.





Authors should submit a proposal of a maximum length of ten double-spaced pages (excluding appendices, tables, figures, and references). It should be structured to contain three sections in the following format. ERF reserves the right to exclude proposals that are not consistent with these guidelines.


IMPORTANT NOTE: the proposal should NOT include the authors’ names, as it will undergo a blind review process.

  1. Statement of the research problem: A clear and concise description of the nature and importance of the proposed research; its scope and boundaries; its general context; and objectives with explicit reference to feasibility and policy relevance.
  1. Value Added: A selective and analytical review of the relevant literature, intending to both demonstrating knowledge of past theoretical and empirical work, as well as identifying the knowledge gap that the proposed research is intended to address.
  1. Conceptual Framework and Research Methodology: A clear statement of the conceptual framework should be provided elaborating on the set of specific, identifiable and concrete questions for which the proposed research is intended to provide answers. This is to be followed by an elaboration of the research methods to be employed and why they are best suited to answer the research questions. The section should also indicate the nature of the information required and the data collection techniques, whether primary or secondary or a combination of the two. Finally, it should explain how the information will be analyzed and interpreted using quantitative and/or qualitative methods.
  1. Budget: The budget should be submitted in US dollars, itemized and inclusive of all research and dissemination expenses. Research costs should be defined by deliverables. Other budget items may include travel, if necessary, research assistance, data collection, office supplies and photocopying. The purchase of equipment is not allowed under ERF grant rules. Please note that the maximum budget per paper that ERF can fund is $8,000.
  1. References: A list should be attached to the proposal specifying the suggested references to be used in writing the proposed paper.


The following eligibility criteria will be applied:

  • Researchers should have expertise in the topic being researched.
  • At least one of the main researchers should be from the ERF region, whether residing inside or outside the region.
  • Researchers from disciplines other than economics may apply.


A refereeing committee will evaluate all proposals by the following criteria:

  • The value added from the project in terms of contributing to existing knowledge,
  • The methodological soundness, be it econometric or in-depth case studies,
  • The policy relevance of the findings.


  • Submission of proposals deadline: February 15, 2020
  • Announcement of winning proposals: March 7, 2020
  • Submission of draft papers: June 30, 2020
  • Workshop for discussing draft papers: June 2020 (TBD)
  • Submission of final papers: September 30, 2020

To submit your proposal, please complete this form online. 



  • Author(s)’ CV(s)
  • Two published papers, and
  • Proposal as per the above mentioned guidelines.

For further inquiries, please contact Ms. Ramage Nada, Senior Programs Officer, email: