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Discrimination and ethnic conflict: a dyadic analysis of politically-excluded groups in sub-Saharan Africa
Authors: Alcorta, Ludovico, Swedlund, Haley J., Smits, Jeroen
Source: International Interactions , Volume 46, issue 2; DOI:10.1080/03050629.2020.1716748
Topic(s): Ethnicity
Country: Africa
  Multiple African Countries
Published: JAN 2020
Abstract: The literature on political exclusion and conflict tends to treat grievance-based mechanisms with broad-brush strokes and does not differentiate between types of political exclusion. This study disaggregates politically-excluded groups into two subgroups: groups that experience political discrimination from the state, and groups without political power that are not explicitly discriminated against. We posit that discriminated groups are more likely to experience grievances and therefore are more prone to conflict than excluded groups that are not actively discriminated against. We further posit that the effect of discrimination on conflict is moderated by interactions with economic inequalities and the share of elites. Using dyadic data for 155 ethnic groups in 28 Sub-Saharan African countries, we find that among politically-excluded groups it is indeed discriminated groups that are responsible for most of the association between political exclusion and conflict. Groups that face active, intentional, and targeted discrimination by the state are significantly more likely to be involved in conflict than excluded groups who do not face this explicit form of discrimination. Additionally, we find that discriminated groups who also experience economic inequalities are less likely to engage in conflict, whilst an increased presence of elites within discriminated groups can precipitate the chances of conflict.