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Colonial Legacy, Polarization and Linguistic Disenfranchisement: The Case of the Sri Lankan War

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  • Ginsburgh, Victor
  • Weber, Shlomo
  • Castaneda Dower, Paul

Abstract

We introduce two societal polarization measures that, unlike standard approaches based on time invariant and arbitrary divisions of a society into ethnolinguistic or religious groups, take into account how a society's history can alter inter-group relations. One of our measures allows for different inter-group divisions due to different experiences in the colonial era, while the other allows these divisions to change as a result of violence throughout the conflict episode. By examining the protracted war in Sri Lanka and applying these indices to a data set describing victims of terrorist attacks by district and year, we find that, for each of our polarization indices, there is a positive effect on the number of victims from terrorist attacks. The historical underpinnings of our indices allow us to demonstrate in a quantitative and concrete way the relevance of the historical path for understanding patterns of civil conflict.

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  • Ginsburgh, Victor & Weber, Shlomo & Castaneda Dower, Paul, 2015. "Colonial Legacy, Polarization and Linguistic Disenfranchisement: The Case of the Sri Lankan War," CEPR Discussion Papers 10617, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  • Handle: RePEc:cpr:ceprdp:10617
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    Cited by:

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    4. Victor Ginsburgh & Shlomo Weber, 2020. "The Economics of Language," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 58(2), pages 348-404, June.
    5. Jia LI & Takahiro ITO & Ramila USOOF-THOWFEEK & Koji YAMAZAKI, 2021. "The scars of the Eelam War: Eroded trust, heightened ethnic identity, and political legacies in north-eastern Sri Lanka," GSICS Working Paper Series 38, Graduate School of International Cooperation Studies, Kobe University.
    6. William Brock & Bo Chen & Steven N. Durlauf & Shlomo Weber, 2022. "Everybody’s Talkin’ at Me: Levels of Majority Language Acquisition by Minority Language Speakers," NBER Working Papers 30410, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    7. Samuel Bazzi & Matthew Gudgeon, 2021. "The Political Boundaries of Ethnic Divisions," American Economic Journal: Applied Economics, American Economic Association, vol. 13(1), pages 235-266, January.
    8. Victor Ginsburgh & Juan D. Moreno‐Ternero, 2022. "Brexit and multilingualism in the European Union," Metroeconomica, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 73(2), pages 708-731, May.

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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Colonial legacy; Conflict; Linguistic disenfranchisement; Polarization;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • D74 - Microeconomics - - Analysis of Collective Decision-Making - - - Conflict; Conflict Resolution; Alliances; Revolutions
    • F54 - International Economics - - International Relations, National Security, and International Political Economy - - - Colonialism; Imperialism; Postcolonialism
    • O15 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Economic Development: Human Resources; Human Development; Income Distribution; Migration

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