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The Social Costs of Religious Violence in India

Monday, October 2, 2023, 4:00 pm – 5:30 pm

The De- and Re-Democratization (DRD) Workgroup of the CEU Democracy Institute cordially invites you to its next Rooftop Seminar.

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The paper studies how violence breaks down markets and inflicts costs for large sections of society. Since the 2010s, India has witnessed a significant rise in violent attacks targeting individuals, mostly Muslims, suspected of involvement in cow slaughter by vigilante groups, disrupting cattle markets. Consequently, rural households’ inability to sell unproductive cattle increased cattle abandonment and led to unintended social costs, including the loss of human lives. The authors compile a novel dataset using a high-frequency panel of households, road accident statistics, media reports on vigilante violence, and historical data on Hindu-Muslim conflicts in India. By leveraging the temporal and spatial variations in violence, they estimate more than a 10 percent decline in cattle holdings among households in affected regions with an event study design. They identify the effect of this violence on human deaths and injuries due to at least a 200% increase in road accidents due to collisions with abandoned stray cattle. With primary survey data, they find that farmers self-report severe crop damage by stray cattle in regions experiencing violence.

The paper is available upon request from the author.


Anand Murugesan is an economist at the CEU Department of Public Policy, and a Research Affiliate at the CEU Democracy Institute. He combines insights from economics and related disciplines with causal inference tools – lab, lab-in-the-field, and observational data – to study social problems, particularly in developing countries. Recent research includes studying the impact of religious violence on India's rural economy; the long shadow of the Habsburg imperial history on tax compliance today and; cash for votes. He is co-authoring the book Demystifying Causal Inference. Before CEU, Anand worked at the University of California, Merced.


Alexander Bor is a Post-doctoral Fellow at the CEU Democracy Institute, and a Visiting Professor at CEU Vienna. He received an MA in Political Science at the CEU in 2012, and a PhD in Political Science at Aarhus University in 2018, where he also worked as a postdoc until 2022. His research focuses on how the human mind navigates social and political challenges like political polarization, online political hostility, the COVID-19 pandemic, or selecting and evaluating political leaders. His work integrates insights from political behavior, social and evolutionary psychology, and public health. He employs diverse quantitative analytical tools like surveys, experiments and machine learning. His work has been published in leading journals (including PNAS, APSR, and Psych Science) and covered by international media outlets (e.g. New York Times, Washington Post, The Atlantic).


Andreas Schedler is a Senior Research Fellow and Lead Researcher of the De- and Re-Democratization Working Group at the CEU Democracy Institute, and a Visiting Professor at CEU Vienna. He earned his PhD from the University of Vienna. Before joining the CEU, he was a Professor of Political Science at the Center for Economic Teaching and Research (cide) in Mexico City. A leading comparative scholar of democracy, democratization, and authoritarianism, he has conducted research on democratic consolidation and transition, authoritarian elections, anti-political-establishment parties, political accountability, and organized violence. He is also known for his methodological work on concept analysis and cross-national measurement. His current research focuses on political polarization and the destruction of basic democratic trust.