All politics is local. In spite of this familiar dictum, most studies that have investigated how institutions shape the conditions for violence and peace have focused on national institutions, and neglected the local dimension. This paper investigates the effects of high-quality local political institutions on the location of violence in internal conflicts in Africa, demonstrating that the quality of local political institutions matters even when the characteristics of national institutions are accounted for. We combine georeferenced survey data from the Afrobarometer surveys with georeferenced conflict data, allowing us to study the links between institutional quality at the subnational level and the occurrence of conflict-related violence. Crucially, we find that administrative districts with high-quality local government institutions are less likely to experience violence in an internal conflict than poorly governed districts. This relationship holds when controlling for a number of relevant factors like economic development, demographics, political opinions, urbanization and country-fixed effects. We also use matching techniques to improve inference, finding rather robust indications that local institutional quality pacifies.
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