When Does Ethnic Diversity Lead to Violence? Evidence from the 2007 Elections in Kenya
University of Copenhagen - Department of Economics
Kenya Institute of Education
July 21, 2011
University of Copenhagen Dept. of Economics Discussion Paper No. 11-19
Exploiting a district level data set on the 2007/8 post-election violence in Kenya, this paper investigates why polarization between ethnic groups results in violent conflict in some cases, but not in others. After the announcement of highly controversial election results in December 2007, ethnic-based violence erupted in many parts of Kenya. Violence occurred more often and with greater intensity in areas characterized by a high level of polarization between the Kikuyu ethnic group and other ethnic communities. At the same time, in several districts with a very high level of Kikuyu-non-Kikuyu polarization, only few and sporadic incidences of violence occurred. The paper attempts to explain why in areas with similar levels of ethnic polarization, a flawed election process produced so different reactions. Results suggest that the main triggers of ethnic violence were poverty, unemployment among young males, and deteriorating public services. On the other hand, there is little evidence that clashes resulted from land inequality, land pressure or political competition.
Number of Pages in PDF File: 35
Keywords: Conflict, ethnicity, poverty, unemployment, public services, Kenya
JEL Classification: D74, H4, J6, O55
Date posted: August 3, 2011
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