There is much evidence to suggest that economic and social factors are major causes of civil unrest. However, governments often resort to the use of police and military to tackle such upheavals, rather than using policies that directly address the causes of discontent. This briefing uses data from India to compare the effectiveness of redistributive transfers and policing in reducing conflict.
It finds that transfers have a significant effect on the prevention and reduction of civil unrest, particularly in the medium term. While policing reduces conflict in the short term,the continued use of police has either inconsequential effects,or even leads to increases in rioting. These findings have important lessons for other countries where social cohesion breaks frequently, but large-scale conflict may be avoidable.