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Economic growth and ethnic violence: An empirical investigation of Hindu—Muslim riots in India

Author

Listed:
  • Anjali Thomas Bohlken

    (University of British Columbia, anjalitb@gmail.com)

  • Ernest John Sergenti

    (The World Bank)

Abstract

Most studies of Hindu—Muslim riots in India have tended to emphasize the effects of social, cultural, or political factors on the occurrence of ethnic violence. In this article, the authors focus on the relationship between economic conditions and riots. Specifically, this article examines the effect of economic growth on the outbreak of Hindu—Muslim riots in 15 Indian states between 1982 and 1995. Controlling for other factors, the authors find that just a 1% increase in the growth rate decreases the expected number of riots by over 5%. While short-term changes in growth influence the occurrence of riots, this study finds no evidence of a relationship between the levels of wealth in a state and the incidence of ethnic riots. Moreover, by including state fixed effects, the authors determine that the negative relationship found between economic growth and riots is driven primarily by the relationship between growth and riots within a state over time rather than across states. These results are robust to controlling for a number of other factors such as economic inequality, demographic variables, political competition, temporal lags, spillover effects from adjacent states, and year effects. Finally, to address potential concerns that economic growth could be a consequence rather than a cause of violence or that other unobserved factors could confound the relationship between economic growth and the occurrence of Hindu—Muslim riots, the authors also employ instrumental variables (IV) estimation, using percentage change in rainfall as an instrument for growth. The results with IV estimation are similar to the results with non-IV estimation in terms of sign and significance, indicating that the negative effect of economic growth on riots is not due to reverse causality or omitted variables bias.

Suggested Citation

  • Anjali Thomas Bohlken & Ernest John Sergenti, 2010. "Economic growth and ethnic violence: An empirical investigation of Hindu—Muslim riots in India," Journal of Peace Research, Peace Research Institute Oslo, vol. 47(5), pages 589-600, September.
  • Handle: RePEc:sae:joupea:v:47:y:2010:i:5:p:589-600
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    2. Sofia Amaral & Siddhartha Bandyopadhyay & Rudra Sensarma, 2014. "Determinants Of Crime Across Conflict And Non-Conflict States In India," Working papers 146, Indian Institute of Management Kozhikode.
    3. Caruso, Raul & Schneider, Friedrich, 2011. "The socio-economic determinants of terrorism and political violence in Western Europe (1994–2007)," European Journal of Political Economy, Elsevier, vol. 27(S1), pages 37-49.
    4. Atsushi Kato & Takahiro Sato, 2016. "Violent Conflicts and Economic Performance of the Manufacturing Sector in India," Discussion Paper Series DP2016-01, Research Institute for Economics & Business Administration, Kobe University.
    5. Iyer, Sriya & Shrivastava, Anand, 2015. "Religious Riots and Electoral Politics in India," IZA Discussion Papers 9522, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    6. Roy, Susmita, 2012. "Land reforms and social unrest: An empirical investigation of riots in India," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 115(2), pages 249-251.
    7. Sriya Iyer & Chander Velu & Melvyn Weeks, 2014. "Divine Competition: Religious Organisations and Service Provision in India," Cambridge Working Papers in Economics 1409, Faculty of Economics, University of Cambridge.
    8. David Castells-Quintana & Maria del Pilar Lopez-Uribe & Tom McDermott, 2015. "Climate change and the geographical and institutional drivers of economic development," GRI Working Papers 198, Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment.
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    11. Caruso Raul & Gavrilova Evelina, 2012. "Youth Unemployment, Terrorism and Political Violence, Evidence from the Israeli/Palestinian Conflict," Peace Economics, Peace Science, and Public Policy, De Gruyter, vol. 18(2), pages 1-37, August.
    12. Rohit Ticku, 2015. "Riot Rewards? Study of BJP's Electoral Performance and Hindu Muslim Riots," IHEID Working Papers HEIDWP19-2015, Economics Section, The Graduate Institute of International Studies.
    13. Jacopo Ponticelli & Joachim Voth, 2011. "Austerity and anarchy: Budget cuts and social unrest in Europe, 1919-2008," Economics Working Papers 1342, Department of Economics and Business, Universitat Pompeu Fabra, revised Oct 2012.
    14. Kibriya, Shahriar & Xu, Zhicheng P. & Zhang, Yu, 2015. "Economic shocks, governance and violence: A subnational level analysis of Africa," 2015 AAEA & WAEA Joint Annual Meeting, July 26-28, San Francisco, California 205321, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association;Western Agricultural Economics Association.
    15. Sarsons, Heather, 2015. "Rainfall and conflict: A cautionary tale," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 115(C), pages 62-72.
    16. Richard Estes & M. Sirgy, 2014. "Radical Islamic Militancy and Acts of Terrorism: A Quality-of-Life Analysis," Social Indicators Research: An International and Interdisciplinary Journal for Quality-of-Life Measurement, Springer, vol. 117(2), pages 615-652, June.
    17. Gerdis Wischnath & Halvard Buhaug, 2014. "On climate variability and civil war in Asia," Climatic Change, Springer, vol. 122(4), pages 709-721, February.
    18. Bhavnani, Rikhil R. & Lacina, Bethany, 2017. "Fiscal Federalism at Work? Central Responses to Internal Migration in India," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 93(C), pages 236-248.
    19. Devash Kapur, Kishore Gawande, Shanker Satyanath, 2012. "Renewable Resource Shocks and Conflict in India’s Maoist Belt," Working Papers 302, Center for Global Development.
    20. Solomon Hsiang & Marshall Burke, 2014. "Climate, conflict, and social stability: what does the evidence say?," Climatic Change, Springer, vol. 123(1), pages 39-55, March.
    21. Singha, Komal, 2013. "Conflict and education in Manipur: A comparative analysis," Working Papers 305, Institute for Social and Economic Change, Bangalore.
    22. Lakshmi Iyer & Petia Topalova, 2014. "Poverty and Crime: Evidence from Rainfall and Trade Shocks in India," Harvard Business School Working Papers 14-067, Harvard Business School, revised Aug 2014.
    23. Ole Theisen & Nils Gleditsch & Halvard Buhaug, 2013. "Is climate change a driver of armed conflict?," Climatic Change, Springer, vol. 117(3), pages 613-625, April.
    24. Fjelde, Hanne, 2015. "Farming or Fighting? Agricultural Price Shocks and Civil War in Africa," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 67(C), pages 525-534.

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