Ethnic Polarization, Potential Conflict, and Civil Wars

UPF Economics and Business Working Paper 770

46 Pages Posted: 15 Nov 2005

See all articles by Jose Garcia-Montalvo

Jose Garcia-Montalvo

Universitat Pompeu Fabra - Department of Economics and Business (DEB)

Marta Reynal-Querol

Universitat Pompeu Fabra - Faculty of Economic and Business Sciences; World Bank - Development Research Group (DECRG)

Date Written: July 2004

Abstract

This paper analyzes the relationship between ethnic fractionalization, polarization, and conflict. In recent years many authors have found empirical evidence that ethnic fractionalization has a negative effect on growth. One mechanism that can explain this nexus is the effect of ethnic heterogeneity on rent-seeking activities and the increase in potential conflict, which is negative for investment. However the empirical evidence supporting the effect of ethnic fractionalization on the incidence of civil conflicts is very weak. Although ethnic fractionalization may be important for growth, we argue that the channel is not through an increase in potential ethnic conflict. We discuss the appropriateness of indices of polarization to capture conflictive dimensions. We develop a new measure of ethnic heterogeneity that satisfies the basic properties associated with the concept of polarization. The empirical section shows that this index of ethnic polarization is a significant variable in the explanation of the incidence of civil wars. This result is robust to the presence of other indicators of ethnic heterogeneity, other sources of data for the construction of the index, and other data structures.

Keywords: Ethnic diversity, conflict, indices of diversity

JEL Classification: D74, D72, Z12, D63

Suggested Citation

Garcia-Montalvo, Jose and Reynal-Querol, Marta, Ethnic Polarization, Potential Conflict, and Civil Wars (July 2004). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=848464 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.848464

Jose Garcia-Montalvo (Contact Author)

Universitat Pompeu Fabra - Department of Economics and Business (DEB) ( email )

Barcelona, 08005
Spain

Marta Reynal-Querol

Universitat Pompeu Fabra - Faculty of Economic and Business Sciences ( email )

Ramon Trias Fargas 25-27
Barcelona, 08005
Spain
93 5422590 (Phone)

World Bank - Development Research Group (DECRG) ( email )

1818 H. Street, N.W.
MSN3-311
Washington, DC 20433
United States
202-458-7891 (Phone)

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