Square Pegs in Round Holes: Inequalities, Grievances, and Civil War

41 Pages Posted: 1 Aug 2011 Last revised: 8 Aug 2011

See all articles by Halvard Buhaug

Halvard Buhaug

International Peace Research Institute, Oslo (PRIO)

Lars-Erik Cederman

ETH Zürich

Kristian Skrede Gleditsch

University of Essex; International Peace Research Institute, Oslo (PRIO)

Date Written: 2011

Abstract

Much of the recent literature on civil war treats explanations rooted in political and economic grievances with considerable suspicion, and many empirical studies conclude that there is no relationship between ethnic diversity or measures of inequality and political violence to support such claims. We argue that common indicators used in previous research, such as the ethno-linguistic fractionalization (ELF) and the Gini coefficient for income dispersion, fail to capture fundamental aspects of political exclusion and economic inequality that can motivate conflict. In this paper we develop new country-level indices that directly reflect inequalities among groups, including political discrimination and wealth differentials along ethnic lines. Our results show that these theoretically informed country profiles are much better predictors of civil war onset than conventional indicators, even when we control for a number of alternative factors potentially related to grievances or opportunities for conflict.

Keywords: civil war, ethnicity, inequality, grievances, nationalism

Suggested Citation

Buhaug, Halvard and Cederman, Lars-Erik and Gleditsch, Kristian Skrede, Square Pegs in Round Holes: Inequalities, Grievances, and Civil War (2011). APSA 2011 Annual Meeting Paper, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1900723

Halvard Buhaug (Contact Author)

International Peace Research Institute, Oslo (PRIO) ( email )

Oslo
N-0260 Oslo
Norway

Lars-Erik Cederman

ETH Zürich ( email )

Zürichbergstrasse 18
8092 Zurich, CH-1015
Switzerland

Kristian Skrede Gleditsch

University of Essex ( email )

Wivenhoe Park
Colchester, CO4 3SQ
United Kingdom

International Peace Research Institute, Oslo (PRIO)

Oslo
N-0260 Oslo
Norway

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