Religious diversity, intolerance and civil conflict
We compute new measures of religious diversity and intolerance and study their effects on civil conflict. Using a religion tree that describes the relationship between different religions, we compute measures of religious diversity at three different levels of aggregation. We find that religious diversity is a significant and robust correlate of civil conflict. While religious fractionalization significantly reduces conflict, religious polarization increases it. This is most robust at the second level of aggregation which implies that the cleavage between Hindus, Muslims, Jews, and Christians etc. is more relevant than that between either subgroups of religions like Protestants and Catholics, Shias and Sunnis, etc. or that between higher levels of aggregation like Abrahamic and Indian religions. We find religious intolerance to be a significant and robust predictor of conflict. Ethnic polarization ceases to be a robust predictor of civil conflict once we control for religious diversity and intolerance. We find no evidence that some religions are more violent than others.
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