A $500,000 gift by philanthropist and Crisis Group Trustee Alexander Soros has enabled Crisis Group to grant a two-year research fellowship in the economic drivers of conflict. Dr Maria Micaela Sviatschi joins our Latin America Program to develop quantitative analytical tools that help our work to prevent war and shape peace.

International Crisis Group is pleased to announce the appointment of Dr Maria Micaela Sviatschi as the inaugural Fellow in its Economics of Conflict initiative, established by a $500,000 gift from philanthropist and Crisis Group Trustee Alexander Soros.

The fellowship is part of a wider Crisis Group initiative to deepen its understanding of the economic drivers of conflict in our work and to pioneer the use of innovative data sources that are under-used in policy-making, such as analysis of resource flows, satellite imagery, and social media. Sviatschi’s first project will focus on the social and demographic drivers of gang violence in El Salvador.

“Multi-method approaches will help expand Crisis Group’s reporting on some of the most critical drivers of peace and conflict in our time, including war economies, inequality and extractive industries”, Alexander Soros said. “In Central America, for instance, matching scientific data to Crisis Group’s field analysis can deepen understanding of links between the U.S. deportation policy and the regional explosion of criminal violence”.

This initiative is being built up in partnership with Empirical Studies of Conflict group (ESOC), a network of quantitative scholars headquartered at Princeton University that “identifies, compiles, and analyses micro-level conflict data and information on insurgency, civil war, and other sources of politically-motivated violence worldwide”.

Sviatschi received her PhD in economics from Columbia University and is currently at Princeton University, where next year she will move from Instructor to Assistant Professor of Economics and Public Affairs. She analyses in particular how exposure to illegal labour markets and gangs during childhood and adolescence affects individuals’ later illegal industrial activity or use of violence against the state. Her research explores policies to reduce the development of criminal skills that perpetuate illegal labour markets in developing countries. She has ongoing collaborative research projects in Colombia, the Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Guatemala, Peru, Turkey, and the U.S. She has also conducted policy evaluations for the World Bank and Inter-American Development Bank.

“I am delighted to join Crisis Group as the inaugural Economics of Conflict Fellow”, Sviatschi said. “This is a unique and exciting opportunity to integrate quantitative analysis into Crisis Group’s research and policy work”.

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