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Violence against Rich Ethnic Minorities: A Theory of Instrumental Scapegoating

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  • Yann Bramoullé

    () (GREQAM - Groupement de Recherche en Économie Quantitative d'Aix-Marseille - ECM - Ecole Centrale de Marseille - CNRS - Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique - AMU - Aix Marseille Université - EHESS - École des hautes études en sciences sociales)

  • Pauline Morault

    (GREQAM - Groupement de Recherche en Économie Quantitative d'Aix-Marseille - ECM - Ecole Centrale de Marseille - CNRS - Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique - AMU - Aix Marseille Université - EHESS - École des hautes études en sciences sociales)

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 analyze the impact of the presence of a rich ethnic minority on violence and on interactions between a rent-seeking local elite and a poor majority. We find that the local elite can always make use 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 investigate the conditions under which such instrumental scapegoating emerges, and the forms it takes. We then consider some social integration 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.

Suggested Citation

  • Yann Bramoullé & Pauline Morault, 2017. "Violence against Rich Ethnic Minorities: A Theory of Instrumental Scapegoating," Working Papers halshs-01357457, HAL.
  • Handle: RePEc:hal:wpaper:halshs-01357457
    Note: View the original document on HAL open archive server: https://halshs.archives-ouvertes.fr/halshs-01357457v2
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Acemoglu,Daron & Robinson,James A., 2009. "Economic Origins of Dictatorship and Democracy," Cambridge Books, Cambridge University Press, number 9780521671422, December.
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    Cited by:

    1. 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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