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(De facto) Historical Ethnic Borders and Contemporary Conflict in Africa

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  • Emilio Depetris-Chauvin

    (Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile)

  • Ömer Özak

    (Southern Methodist University)

Abstract

We explore the effect of historical ethnic borders on contemporary conflict in Africa. We document that both the intensive and extensive margins of contemporary conflict are higher close to historical ethnic borders. Exploiting variations across artificial regions within an ethnicity’s historical homeland and a theory-based instrumental variable approach, we find that regions crossed by historical ethnic borders have 27 percentage points higher probability of conflict and 7.9 percentage points higher probability of being the initial location of a conflict. We uncover several key underlying mechanisms: competition for agricultural land, population pressure, cultural similarity, and weak property rights.

Suggested Citation

  • Emilio Depetris-Chauvin & Ömer Özak, 2023. "(De facto) Historical Ethnic Borders and Contemporary Conflict in Africa," Departmental Working Papers 2303, Southern Methodist University, Department of Economics.
  • Handle: RePEc:smu:ecowpa:2303
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    1. Depetris-Chauvin, Emilio & Özak, Ömer, 2023. "(De facto) Historical Ethnic Borders and Land Tenure in Sub-Saharan Africa," MPRA Paper 116869, University Library of Munich, Germany.

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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Borders; Conflict; Intra-State Conflict; Ethnic Borders; Non-Civil Conflict; Ethnic Conflict; Territory; Property Rights; Landownership; Population Pressure; Migration; Historical Homelands; Development; Africa; Economic Development; Economic Growth; Voronoi Diagram; Voronoi Tesselation; Thiessen Tesselation;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • D74 - Microeconomics - - Analysis of Collective Decision-Making - - - Conflict; Conflict Resolution; Alliances; Revolutions
    • N57 - Economic History - - Agriculture, Natural Resources, Environment and Extractive Industries - - - Africa; Oceania
    • O13 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Agriculture; Natural Resources; Environment; Other Primary Products
    • O17 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Formal and Informal Sectors; Shadow Economy; Institutional Arrangements
    • O43 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Growth and Aggregate Productivity - - - Institutions and Growth
    • P48 - Political Economy and Comparative Economic Systems - - Other Economic Systems - - - Legal Institutions; Property Rights; Natural Resources; Energy; Environment; Regional Studies
    • Q15 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Agriculture - - - Land Ownership and Tenure; Land Reform; Land Use; Irrigation; Agriculture and Environment
    • Q34 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Nonrenewable Resources and Conservation - - - Natural Resources and Domestic and International Conflicts

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