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Territorial Autonomy in the Shadow of Conflict: Too Little, Too Late?




This article evaluates the effect of territorial autonomy on the outbreak of internal conflict by analyzing ethnic groups around the world since WWII. Shedding new light on an ongoing debate, we argue that the critics have overstated the case against autonomy policies. Our evidence indicates that decentralization has a significant conflict-preventing effect where there is no prior conflict history. In postconflict settings, however, granting autonomy can still be helpful in combination with central power sharing arrangements. Yet, on its own, postconflict autonomy concessions may be too little, too late. Accounting for endogeneity, we also instrument for autonomy in postcolonial states by exploiting that French, as opposed to British, colonial rule rarely relied on decentralized governance. This identification strategy suggests that naïve analysis tends to underestimate the pacifying influence of decentralization.

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  • Cederman, Lars-Erik & Hug, Simon & Schã„Del, Andreas & Wucherpfennig, Julian, 2015. "Territorial Autonomy in the Shadow of Conflict: Too Little, Too Late?," American Political Science Review, Cambridge University Press, vol. 109(2), pages 354-370, May.
  • Handle: RePEc:cup:apsrev:v:109:y:2015:i:02:p:354-370_00

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    Cited by:

    1. Flamand, Sabine, 2019. "Partial decentralization as a way to prevent secessionist conflict," European Journal of Political Economy, Elsevier, vol. 59(C), pages 159-178.
    2. Vincenzo Galasso, 2020. "Market Reactions to Quest for Decentralization and Independence: Evidence from Catalonia," CESifo Working Paper Series 8254, CESifo.
    3. Martin Ottmann, 2020. "Peace for our time? Examining the effect of power-sharing on postwar rebellions," Journal of Peace Research, Peace Research Institute Oslo, vol. 57(5), pages 617-631, September.
    4. Kristian Skrede Gleditsch & Sara M. T. Polo, 2016. "Ethnic inclusion, democracy, and terrorism," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 169(3), pages 207-229, December.
    5. Zsuzsa Csergő & Philippe Roseberry & Stefan Wolff, 2017. "Institutional Outcomes of Territorial Contestation: Lessons from Post-Communist Europe, 1989–2012," Publius: The Journal of Federalism, Oxford University Press, vol. 47(4), pages 491-521.
    6. Shteryo Nozharov, 2019. "Hybrid Threats As An Exogenous Economic Shock," Economic Archive, D. A. Tsenov Academy of Economics, Svishtov, Bulgaria, issue 4 Year 20, pages 21-29.
    7. Dominic Rohner, 2018. "Success Factors for Peace Treaties: A Review of Theory and Evidence," Cahiers de Recherches Economiques du Département d'économie 18.08, Université de Lausanne, Faculté des HEC, Département d’économie.
    8. Tranchant Jean-Pierre, 2016. "Is Regional Autonomy a Solution to Ethnic Conflict? Some Lessons from a Dynamic Analysis," Peace Economics, Peace Science, and Public Policy, De Gruyter, vol. 22(4), pages 449-460, December.
    9. Thierry Madiès & Grégoire Rota-Grasiozi & Jean-Pierre Tranchant & Cyril Trépier, 2018. "The economics of secession: a review of legal, theoretical, and empirical aspects," Swiss Journal of Economics and Statistics, Springer;Swiss Society of Economics and Statistics, vol. 154(1), pages 1-18, December.
    10. Martijn Huysmans & Christophe Crombez, 2020. "Making exit costly but efficient: the political economy of exit clauses and secession," Constitutional Political Economy, Springer, vol. 31(1), pages 89-110, March.

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