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Decentralization and Ethnic Conflict: The Role of Empowerment


  • Tranchant, Jean-Pierre


Decentralization is increasing in all parts of the world. Assessing the efficiency of decentralization as a means to mitigate ethnic conflict is then of primarily importance. This paper builds a simple model of decentralization as an empowerment mechanism. It suggests that decentralization could promote peace conditional on a set of countries and groups characteristics. Typically, decentralization should empower minorities which are small at the national level, while representing a critical mass of the population in the regions they live in. Empirical results confirm that decentralization impacts ethnic conflict only when those conditioning factors are controlled for. Furthermore, decentralization dampens all forms of ethnic violence for groups spatially concentrated enough and/or for groups having a local majority. In contrast, it fuels protest and even rebellion for groups lacking one. The paper then highlights the crucial need to build checks and balances mechanisms at the regional level for local minorities not being harmed by the decentralization process.

Suggested Citation

  • Tranchant, Jean-Pierre, 2007. "Decentralization and Ethnic Conflict: The Role of Empowerment," MPRA Paper 3713, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  • Handle: RePEc:pra:mprapa:3713

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Alesina, Alberto & Devleeschauwer, Arnaud & Easterly, William & Kurlat, Sergio & Wacziarg, Romain, 2003. "Fractionalization," Journal of Economic Growth, Springer, vol. 8(2), pages 155-194, June.
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    4. J-P. Platteau & A. Abraham, 2002. "Participatory Development in the Presence of Endogenous Community Imperfections," Journal of Development Studies, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 39(2), pages 104-136.
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    6. Alberto Alesina & Reza Baqir & William Easterly, 1999. "Public Goods and Ethnic Divisions," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 114(4), pages 1243-1284.
    7. Dilip Mookherjee & Pranab K. Bardhan, 2000. "Capture and Governance at Local and National Levels," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 90(2), pages 135-139, May.
    8. Esteban, Joan & Ray, Debraj, 1999. "Conflict and Distribution," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 87(2), pages 379-415, August.
    9. Brancati, Dawn, 2006. "Decentralization: Fueling the Fire or Dampening the Flames of Ethnic Conflict and Secessionism?," International Organization, Cambridge University Press, vol. 60(03), pages 651-685, July.
    10. Pranab Bardhan, 2002. "Decentralization of Governance and Development," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 16(4), pages 185-205, Fall.
    11. Seabright, Paul, 1996. "Accountability and decentralisation in government: An incomplete contracts model," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 40(1), pages 61-89, January.
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    More about this item


    Minorities; Ethnic Conflict; Decentralization; Panel Data Analysis;

    JEL classification:

    • D74 - Microeconomics - - Analysis of Collective Decision-Making - - - Conflict; Conflict Resolution; Alliances; Revolutions
    • H77 - Public Economics - - State and Local Government; Intergovernmental Relations - - - Intergovernmental Relations; Federalism

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