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IFS/STICERD/UCL Development Work in Progress Seminar

Creating Cohesive Communities: A Youth Camp Experiment in India

Matt Lowe (University of British Columbia)

Thursday 18 April 2024 13:00 - 14:00

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About this event

Non-family-based institutions for socializing young people may play a vital role in creating close-knit, inclusive communities. We study the potential for youth camps—integrating rituals, sports, and civics training—to strengthen intergroup cohesion. We randomly assigned Hindu and Muslim adolescent boys, from West Bengal, India, to two-week camps or to a pure control arm. To isolate mechanisms, we cross-randomized collective rituals (such as singing the national anthem, wearing uniforms, chanting support during matches, and synchronous dancing) and the intensity of intergroup contact. We find that camps reduce ingroup bias, increase willingness to interact with outgroup members, and enhance psychological well-being. Campers continue to have more than twice as many outgroup friends than control participants one year after the camps ended. Meanwhile, additional camp elements have heterogeneous effects: rituals have more positive impacts for the Hindu majority than the Muslim minority, while higher intergroup contact backfires among Hindus but not Muslims. Our findings demonstrate that inclusive youth camps may be a powerful tool for bridging deep social divides. Yet, we also highlight the conceptual challenges in crafting optimal integrative camps that help all groups.

This seminar series is jointly organized by the IFS, STICERD, and UCL.

IFS/STICERD/UCL Development Economics Work In Progress seminars are held on Thursdays in term time at 13:00-14:00, at the IFS, unless specified otherwise.

Seminar organisers: Oriana Bandiera (STICERD, LSE), Imran Rasul (UCL), Britta Augsburg (IFS) and Jonathan Weigel (LSE).

For further information please contact Britta Augsburg: britta_a@ifs.org.uk.

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