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

98 Pages Posted: 12 Mar 2020

See all articles by Emilio Depetris-Chauvin

Emilio Depetris-Chauvin

Pontifical Catholic University of Chile

Ömer Özak

Southern Methodist University - Department of Economics; IZA

Date Written: February 19, 2020

Abstract

We explore the effect of historical ethnic borders on contemporary non-civil conflict in Africa. Exploiting variations across artificial regions (i.e., grids of 50x50km) within an ethnicity's historical homeland, we document that both the intensive and extensive margins of contemporary conflict are concentrated close to historical ethnic borders. Following a theory-based instrumental variable approach, which generates a plausibly exogenous ethno-spatial partition of Africa, we find that grid cells with 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.

Keywords: Borders, Conflict, Territory, Property Rights, Landownership, Population Pressure, Migration, Historical Homelands, Development, Africa, Voronoi Tesselation, Thiessen Tesselation

JEL Classification: D74, N57, O13, O17, O43, P48, Q15, Q34

Suggested Citation

Depetris-Chauvin, Emilio and Özak, Ömer, Borderline Disorder: (De facto) Historical Ethnic Borders and Contemporary Conflict in Africa (February 19, 2020). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3541025 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3541025

Emilio Depetris-Chauvin

Pontifical Catholic University of Chile ( email )

Vicuna Mackenna 4860
Santiago, 99999
Chile

HOME PAGE: http://https://sites.google.com/site/emiliodepetrischauvin/home

Ömer Özak (Contact Author)

Southern Methodist University - Department of Economics ( email )

Dallas, TX 75275
United States
+1-214-768-2755 (Phone)
+1-214-768-1821 (Fax)

HOME PAGE: http://omerozak.com

IZA

P.O. Box 7240
Bonn, D-53072
Germany

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