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

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  • Depetris-Chauvin, Emilio
  • Özak, Ömer

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.

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  • Depetris-Chauvin, Emilio & Özak, Ömer, 2020. "Borderline Disorder: (De facto) Historical Ethnic Borders and Contemporary Conflict in Africa," GLO Discussion Paper Series 697, Global Labor Organization (GLO).
  • Handle: RePEc:zbw:glodps:697
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    3. Barba, Francisco M. & Jaimovich, Dany, 2022. "Ethnic diversity and forest commons," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 158(C).

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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Borders; Conflict; Territory; Property Rights; Landownership; Population Pressure; Migration; Historical Homelands; Development; Africa; Voronoi Tessellation; Thiessen Tessellation;
    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 - Economic Systems - - Other Economic Systems - - - Political Economy; 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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