Natural Resources and Ethnic Exclusion in Bolivia: A Disaggregated Conflict Analysis
Posted: 4 Jun 2013
Date Written: 2012
How do natural resources and ethnic exclusion interact to incite or mitigate domestic conflict? The impact of natural resources and ethnicity on conflict dynamics has mostly been studied separately within cross-country analyses. This paper in contrast engages in an empirical analysis of the joint effects of mineral resources and ethnic exclusion on internal conflict and argues that the spatial interaction of these factors is particularly conflict promoting. We test our argument using sub-national data from Bolivia. Since the beginning of the 2000s Bolivia experienced growing internal conflicts. While the escalating protests in 2003 were commonly labeled as âgas warâ, and the following conflicts are often regarded as ethnically induced, systematic diachronic and synchronic comparisons of the conflict dynamics are rare due to the lack of structural and longer-range empirical data on conflict in Bolivia. We construct a new spatially disaggregated conflict event dataset at the provincial level. Drawing on Bolivian newspaper reports, we code conflict events for all of the 112 provinces from 2000 to 2011. We join this conflict data with information on local ethnic composition from the census, the political representation of ethnic groups at the local and national level, as well as geo-spatial information on natural resource deposits. Using hierarchical and spatial count models, we show that natural resource abundance and the status of local ethnic groups substantively interact and shape domestic conflict patterns in Bolivia across geography and time. A micro-level study of a paradigmatic conflict event within one gas-producing region serves as a complementary analysis and investigates how causal mechanisms within the resource-ethnicity-conflict nexus work in detail.
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