We study the brutal 1991-2002 Sierra Leone civil war using nationally representative household data on conflict experiences, postwar economic outcomes, local politics and collective action. Individuals whose households directly experienced more intense war violence are robustly more likely to attend community meetings, more likely to join local political and community groups, and more likely to vote. Tests using prewar controls and alternative samples suggest that selection into victimization is unlikely to be driving the results. More speculatively, the findings could help partially explain the rapid postwar political and economic recoveries observed in Sierra Leone and after several other recent African civil wars.

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