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Violence against Rich Ethnic Minorities: A Theory of Instrumental Scapegoating

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Abstract

In many parts of the developing world, ethnic minorities play a central role in the economy. Examples include Chinese throughout Southeast Asia, Indians in East Africa and Lebanese in West Africa. These rich minorities are often subject to popular violence and extortion, and are treated ambiguously by local politicians. We develop a formal framework to analyze the interactions between a rent-seeking political elite, an economically dominant ethnic minority and a poor majority. We find that the local elite can always make use of the presence of the rich minority to maintain its hold on power. When the threat of violence is high, the government may change its economic policies strategically to sacrifice the minority to popular resentment. We analyze the conditions under which such instrumental scapegoating emerges, and the forms it takes. We then introduce some social integration between both elites capturing, for instance, mixed marriages and shared education. Social integration reduces violence and yields qualitative changes in economic policies. Overall, our results help explain documented patterns of violence and segregation

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  • Yann Bramoullé & Pauline Morault, 2016. "Violence against Rich Ethnic Minorities: A Theory of Instrumental Scapegoating," AMSE Working Papers 1626, Aix-Marseille School of Economics, France.
  • Handle: RePEc:aim:wpaimx:1626
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    1. Robert Warren Anderson & Noel D. Johnson & Mark Koyama, 2017. "Jewish Persecutions and Weather Shocks: 1100–1800," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 127(602), pages 924-958, June.
    2. Acemoglu,Daron & Robinson,James A., 2009. "Economic Origins of Dictatorship and Democracy," Cambridge Books, Cambridge University Press, number 9780521671422, May.
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    1. Violence against Rich Ethnic Minorities: A Theory of Instrumental Scapegoating
      by maximorossi in NEP-LTV blog on 2016-09-12 23:50:14

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    Cited by:

    1. Raouf Boucekkine & Rodolphe Desbordes & Paolo Melindi-Ghidi, 2020. "A Theory of Elite-Biased Democracies," AMSE Working Papers 2039, Aix-Marseille School of Economics, France.
    2. Tilman Brück & Moritz Hennicke & Antje Schumann, 2018. "Ethnic Inequality and Forced Displacement," Working Papers ECARES 2018-27, ULB -- Universite Libre de Bruxelles.

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    Keywords

    elites; popular violence; ethnic minority; scapegoat;
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