Document Type

Working Paper

Publication Date



Chambers College of Business and Economics

Document Number



This paper investigates the impact of international state-building efforts in Somalia on economic development. We use satellite data on night lights to measure economic activity to deal with nonexistent or poor-quality national income accounts. Using the synthetic control method, we find that the establishment of the Transitional Federal Government in 2004 was associated with economic stagnation relative to the years under statelessness. Using nighttime light emissions, we find economic stagnation regardless of whether we use the total lights emitted from the country or the spread of lights across the country. Our empirical findings are consistent with the idea that the exogenously imposed Transitional Federal Government destabilized the country through an incongruity with the informal institutions that had led to development during Somalia's `statelessness.'

Previous Versions

Jan 14 2020