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Fractionalization and the Fight over Natural Resources: Ethnicity, language, religion, and the onset of civil war


  • Christa N Brunnschweiler
  • Erwin H Bulte


We use three different measures of fractionalization (with varying potential for members of one fraction to “mendaciously” pass for a member of another) to revisit the correlation between natural resources and the onset of conflict. The combination of ethnic fractionalization and resource wealth seems to translate into a greater risk of war, but the same is not true for linguistic and religious fractionalization. This is consistent with the “greed hypothesis” as a driver of conflict. However, we also find that the direct effect of resource wealth tends to attenuate the risk of war, and the net effect of resources on conflict is ambiguous.

Suggested Citation

  • Christa N Brunnschweiler & Erwin H Bulte, 2009. "Fractionalization and the Fight over Natural Resources: Ethnicity, language, religion, and the onset of civil war," OxCarre Working Papers 017, Oxford Centre for the Analysis of Resource Rich Economies, University of Oxford.
  • Handle: RePEc:oxf:oxcrwp:017

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. repec:cup:apsrev:v:101:y:2007:i:04:p:709-725_07 is not listed on IDEAS
    2. Habyarimana, James P. & Humphreys, Macartan & Posner, Daniel N. & Weinstein, Jeremy, 2006. "Why Does Ethnic Diversity Undermine Public Goods Provision? An Experimental Approach," IZA Discussion Papers 2272, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
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    Cited by:

    1. Ibrahim Ahmed Elbadawi & Raimundo Soto, 2015. "Resource rents, institutions, and violent civil conflicts," Defence and Peace Economics, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 26(1), pages 89-113, February.
    2. Fum, Ruikang Marcus & Hodler, Roland, 2010. "Natural resources and income inequality: The role of ethnic divisions," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 107(3), pages 360-363, June.

    More about this item


    Civil war; conflict; natural resources; fractionalization;

    JEL classification:

    • Q34 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Nonrenewable Resources and Conservation - - - Natural Resources and Domestic and International Conflicts
    • O11 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Macroeconomic Analyses of Economic Development
    • N40 - Economic History - - Government, War, Law, International Relations, and Regulation - - - General, International, or Comparative
    • N50 - Economic History - - Agriculture, Natural Resources, Environment and Extractive Industries - - - General, International, or Comparative


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