The Warrior's Curse: Militarized Minorities, Democratic Transitions, and Ethnic Conflict
University of Rochester - Department of Political Science
APSA 2009 Toronto Meeting Paper
How do transitions to electoral democracy in multi-ethnic societies affect political mobilization by minority groups? Are some ethnic minorities more likely to resort to armed rebellion against newly-democratizing states than others? Using a game-theoretic approach, I argue that democratic transitions induce intractable commitment problems between majority and minority ethnic groups the higher the manpower-shares of the minority in the military forces of the pre-transition regime relative to their population-shares. I denote this effect the warrior’s curse. I test the warrior’s curse by analyzing minority rebellions during the Second Wave of democratization - transitions from colonial rule post-World War II. Pairing a new cross-sectional dataset on the colonial “legacies” of minority ethnic groups in ex-British colonies with the Minorities at Risk dataset, I find a robust relationship between over-representation in colonial police forces, a reliable proxy for military over-representation, and the incidence of transitional violence.
Number of Pages in PDF File: 45working papers series
Date posted: August 13, 2009 ; Last revised: October 8, 2009
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