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Development, Inequality and Ethnic Accommodation: Clues from Malaysia, Mauritius and Trinidad and Tobago

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  • Dhananjayan Sriskandarajah

Abstract

This article examines the relationship between economic development and ethnopolitical conflict in three developing countries: Malaysia, Mauritius and Trinidad and Tobago. Each of these countries has been relatively successful in achieving rapid economic development and accommodation amongst constituent ethnic groups. The article explores two particular questions that the experience of these three countries raises: does rapid economic development make ethnic accommodation easier and how important is inter-ethnic inequality? It is suggested that economic development alone cannot prevent ethnopolitical conflict. What matter just as much, if not more, are real and perceived inter-ethnic disparities in access to key economic and political resources. Importantly, each of these countries pursued a hegemonic “one nation” strategy in the early decades following independence that involved strategic partnerships between the major constituent ethnic groups and negotiated economic redistribution. As a result, inter-ethnic inequality has been kept in check. However, there are emerging signs of disruptive ethnopolitical mobilization in each country, based in part on ethnic grievances about discrimination in the distribution of resources. The article concludes that, even in these relatively successful and harmonious cases, the management of socio-economic inequality remains important.

Suggested Citation

  • Dhananjayan Sriskandarajah, 2005. "Development, Inequality and Ethnic Accommodation: Clues from Malaysia, Mauritius and Trinidad and Tobago," Oxford Development Studies, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 33(1), pages 63-79.
  • Handle: RePEc:taf:oxdevs:v:33:y:2005:i:1:p:63-79 DOI: 10.1080/13600810500099675
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    Cited by:

    1. Tarron Khemraj, 2016. "The Political Economy of Guyana’s Underdevelopment," The Review of Black Political Economy, Springer;National Economic Association, pages 325-342.
    2. Stewart, Frances, 2006. "Policies towards Horizontal Inequalities in Post-Conflict Reconstruction," WIDER Working Paper Series 149, World Institute for Development Economic Research (UNU-WIDER).

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