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Ethnic Minority Rule and Civil War Onset How Identity Salience, Fiscal Policy, and Natural Resource Profiles Moderate Outcomes


  • Dan Miodownik
  • Ravi Bhavnani


Using an agent-based computational framework designed to explore the incidence of conflict between two nominally rival ethnic groups, we demonstrate that the impact of ethnic minority rule on civil war onset could be more nuanced than posited in the literature. By testing the effects of three key moderating variables on ethnic minority rule, our analysis demonstrates that: (i) when ethnicity is assumed to be salient for all individuals, conflict onset increases with size of the minority in power, although when salience is permitted to vary, onset decreases as minority and majority approach parity; (ii) fiscal policy—the spending and investment decisions of the minority EGIP—moderates conflict; conflict decreases when leaders make sound decisions, increases under corrupt regimes, and peaks under ethno-nationalist regimes that place a premium on territorial conquest; and lastly (iii) natural resources—their type and distribution—affect the level of conflict which is lowest in agrarian economies, higher in the presence of lootable resources, and still higher when lootable resource are “diffuse†. Our analysis generates a set of propositions to be tested empirically, subject to data availability.

Suggested Citation

  • Dan Miodownik & Ravi Bhavnani, 2011. "Ethnic Minority Rule and Civil War Onset How Identity Salience, Fiscal Policy, and Natural Resource Profiles Moderate Outcomes," Conflict Management and Peace Science, Peace Science Society (International), vol. 28(5), pages 438-458, November.
  • Handle: RePEc:sae:compsc:v:28:y:2011:i:5:p:438-458

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    Cited by:

    1. Gold Valentin, 2012. "Partitioning Ethnic Groups and their Members: Explaining Variations in Satisfaction with Democracy in Africa," Peace Economics, Peace Science, and Public Policy, De Gruyter, vol. 18(3), pages 1-10, December.


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