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Ethnicity And Conflict: An Empirical Study

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  • Joan Esteban
  • Laura Mayoral
  • Debraj Ray

Abstract

This paper examines the impact of ethnic divisions on conflict. The analysis relies on a theoretical model of conflict (Esteban and Ray, 2010) in which equilibrium conflict is shown to be accurately described by a linear function of just three distributional indices of ethnic diversity: the Gini coefficient, the Hirschman-Herfindahl fractionalization index, and a measure of polarization. Based on a dataset constructed by James Fearon and data from Ethnologue on ethno-linguistic groups and the "linguistic distances" between them, we compute the three distribution indices. Our results show that ethnic polarization is a highly significant correlate of conflict. Fractionalization is also significant in some of the statistical exercises, but the Gini coefficient never is. In particular, inter-group distances computed from language and embodied in polarization measures turn out to be extremely important correlates of ethnic conflict.

Suggested Citation

  • Joan Esteban & Laura Mayoral & Debraj Ray, 2010. "Ethnicity And Conflict: An Empirical Study," UFAE and IAE Working Papers 840.10, Unitat de Fonaments de l'Anàlisi Econòmica (UAB) and Institut d'Anàlisi Econòmica (CSIC), revised 12 Dec 2011.
  • Handle: RePEc:aub:autbar:840.10
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    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. José G. Montalvo & Marta Reynal-Querol, 2005. "Ethnic Polarization, Potential Conflict, and Civil Wars," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 95(3), pages 796-816, June.
    2. Jean-Yves Duclos & Joan Esteban & Debraj Ray, 2004. "Polarization: Concepts, Measurement, Estimation," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 72(6), pages 1737-1772, November.
    3. Paul Collier & Anke Hoeffler & Dominic Rohner, 2009. "Beyond greed and grievance: feasibility and civil war," Oxford Economic Papers, Oxford University Press, vol. 61(1), pages 1-27, January.
    4. Klaus Desmet & Ignacio Ortuño-Ortín & Romain Wacziarg, 2009. "The political economy of ethnolinguistic cleavages," Working Papers 2009-17, Instituto Madrileño de Estudios Avanzados (IMDEA) Ciencias Sociales.
    5. Joan Esteban & Debraj Ray, 2011. "Linking Conflict to Inequality and Polarization," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 101(4), pages 1345-1374, June.
    6. Ai, Chunrong & Norton, Edward C., 2003. "Interaction terms in logit and probit models," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 80(1), pages 123-129, July.
    7. James D. Fearon, 2005. "Primary Commodity Exports and Civil War," Journal of Conflict Resolution, Peace Science Society (International), vol. 49(4), pages 483-507, August.
    8. Fearon, James D. & Laitin, David D., 2000. "Violence and the Social Construction of Ethnic Identity," International Organization, Cambridge University Press, vol. 54(4), pages 845-877, October.
    9. Klaus Desmet & Ignacio Ortuño-Ortín & Shlomo Weber, 2009. "Linguistic Diversity and Redistribution," Journal of the European Economic Association, MIT Press, vol. 7(6), pages 1291-1318, December.
    10. Fearon, James D, 2003. "Ethnic and Cultural Diversity by Country," Journal of Economic Growth, Springer, vol. 8(2), pages 195-222, June.
    11. Muller, Edward N. & Seligson, Mitchell A. & Fu, Hung-der & Midlarsky, Manus I., 1989. "Land Inequality and Political Violence," American Political Science Review, Cambridge University Press, vol. 83(2), pages 577-596, June.
    12. José Garcia Montalvo & Marta Reynal-Querol, 2004. "Ethnic polarization, potential conflict and civil wars," Economics Working Papers 770, Department of Economics and Business, Universitat Pompeu Fabra, revised Mar 2005.
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    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • D63 - Microeconomics - - Welfare Economics - - - Equity, Justice, Inequality, and Other Normative Criteria and Measurement
    • D74 - Microeconomics - - Analysis of Collective Decision-Making - - - Conflict; Conflict Resolution; Alliances; Revolutions
    • J15 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Economics of Minorities, Races, Indigenous Peoples, and Immigrants; Non-labor Discrimination
    • O15 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Economic Development: Human Resources; Human Development; Income Distribution; Migration
    • O17 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Formal and Informal Sectors; Shadow Economy; Institutional Arrangements

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