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Inequality and Insurgency


  • Muller, Edward N.
  • Seligson, Mitchell A.


Maldistribution of land in agrarian societies is commonly thought to be an important precondition of mass political violence and revolution. Others argue that because of the difficulty of mobilizing rural populations for political protest, land maldistribution is irrelevant except as part of an inegalitarian distribution of income nationwide. These rival inequality hypotheses have significant implications with respect to the kinds of reforms likely to reduce the potential for insurgency in a society. They are tested using the most comprehensive cross-national compilation of data currently available on land inequality, landlessness, and income inequality. Support is found for the argument that attributes the greater causal import to income inequality. Moreover, the effect of income inequality on political violence is found to hold in the context of a causal model that takes into account the repressiveness of the regime, governmental acts of coercion, intensity of separatism, and level of economic development.

Suggested Citation

  • Muller, Edward N. & Seligson, Mitchell A., 1987. "Inequality and Insurgency," American Political Science Review, Cambridge University Press, vol. 81(2), pages 425-451, June.
  • Handle: RePEc:cup:apsrev:v:81:y:1987:i:02:p:425-451_19

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