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Why does ethnic partition foster violence? Unpacking the deep historical roots of civil conflicts

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Recent literature highlights the role of historical events in shaping contemporary political and economic outcomes. This article joins the growing debate by utilizing disaggregated data and mediation analysis to explore the causal mechanisms bridging ethnic partition by modern international borders and the risks of postcolonial civil conflicts in Africa. I argue that split ethnic groups are more likely to experience armed conflicts with the central government during the postcolonial age, and the conflict-escalating effect is particularly acute for large-sized split groups. When coupled with sizable demographic forces, ethnic partition heightens the political salience of the corresponding ethnic cleavage while generating greater information and commitment problems. The empirical results provide considerable support for the theoretical claim: first, ethnic partition increases the likelihood of armed conflicts between politically excluded ethnic groups and incumbent; and second, a major part of the conflict-escalating effect is attributable to the indirect and causal interaction effects induced by contemporary group size. The empirical analysis also reveals that the role of the primary alternative mechanism, political discrimination against split groups, in generating the historical treatment effect remains limited.

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Chaim D. Kaufmann is Associate Professor of International Relations at Lehigh University. The author's thanks are owed to Robert Art, Pauline Baker, John Mearsheimer, Robert Pape, Edward Rhodes, Jack Snyder, Monica Toft, Stephen Van Evera, Barbara Walter, and the members of the University of Chicago Program on International Security and Policy for comments. Research for this article was supported by the United States Institute of Peace. 1. John J. Mearsheimer, "Shrink Bosnia to Save It," New York Times, March 31, 1993; Mearsheimer and Stephen W. Van Evera, "When Peace Means War," New Republic, December 18, 1995, pp. 16-21; Robert M. Hayden, "Schindler's Fate: Genocide, Ethnic Cleansing, and Population Transfers," Slavic Review, Vol. 55, No. 4 (Winter 1996), pp. 740-742; Ivo H. Daalder, "Bosnia after SFOR: Options for Continued U.S. Engagement," Survival, Vol. 39, No. 4 (Winter 1997-98), pp. 5-18; Robert A. Pape, "Partition: An Exit Strategy for Bosnia," Survival, Vol. 39, No. 4 (Winter 1997-98), pp. 25-28; and Michael O'Hanlon, "Turning the Cease-fire into Peace," Brookings Review, Vol. 16, No. 1 (Winter 1998), pp. 41-44. In addition, some analysts who oppose the partition of Bosnia admit that reintegration of the separated populations would be very difficult. See Charles G. Boyd, "Making Bosnia Work," Foreign Affairs, Vol. 77, No. 1 (January/February 1998), pp. 42-55; Susan L. Woodward, "Avoiding Another Cyprus or Israel," Brookings Review, Vol. 16, No. 1 (Winter 1998), pp. 45-48; and Jane M.O. Sharp, "Dayton Report Card," International Security, Vol. 22, No. 3 (Winter 1997/98), p. 133. Flora Lewis, "Reassembling Yugoslavia," Foreign Policy, No. 98 (Spring 1995), pp. 132-144, argues that Bosnia could be reintegrated. 2. Barry R. Posen, "The Security Dilemma and Ethnic Conflict," in Michael E. Brown, ed., Ethnic Conflict and International Security (Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 1993), pp. 103-124; Chaim Kaufmann, "Possible and Impossible Solutions to Ethnic Civil Wars," International Security, Vol. 20, No. 4 (Spring 1996), pp. 136-175; and Daniel L. Byman, "Divided They Stand: Lessons about Partition from Iraq and Lebanon," Security Studies, Vol. 7, No. 1 (Autumn 1997), pp. 1-29. See also Myron S. Weiner, "Bad Neighbors, Bad Neighborhoods: An Inquiry into the Causes of Refugee Flows," International Security, Vol. 21, No. 1 (Summer 1996), pp. 37-38; and Clive J. Christie, "Partition, Separatism, and National Identity," Political Quarterly, Vol. 63, No. 1 (January-March 1992), pp. 68-78. On why separation can resolve ethnic conflicts but not ideological civil wars, see Chaim Kaufmann, "Intervention in Ethnic and Ideological Civil Wars," Security Studies, Vol. 6, No. 1 (Autumn 1996), pp. 62-103. 3. Radha Kumar, "The Troubled History of Partition," Foreign Affairs, Vol. 76, No. 1 (January/February 1997), pp. 22-34. 4. Posen, "Security Dilemma and Ethnic Conflict," pp. 108-111. 5. The processes of war, especially reports of real or imagined enemy atrocities, also harden ethnic identities and solidify hostility and mistrust, creating additional hard-to-counter threat perceptions even in excess of real threats; this effect persists for a considerable time even after the end of large-scale fighting. Kaufmann, "Possible and Impossible Solutions," pp. 141-145, 150-151. 6. For additional types of proposed solutions to ethnic conflicts, see Donald L. Horowitz, "Making Moderation Pay," in Joseph V. Montville, ed., Conflict and Peacemaking in Multiethnic Societies (New York: Lexington Books, 1991), pp. 451-476; Arend J. Lijphart, "The Power-Sharing Approach," in ibid., pp. 491-510; Gidon Gottlieb, Nation against State (New York: Council on Foreign Relations, 1993); and I. William Zartman, "Putting Things Back Together," in Zartman, ed., Collapsed States: The Disintegration and Restoration of Legitimate Authority (Boulder, Colo.: Lynne Rienner, 1995), pp. 267-273. For an analysis that focuses on perceptual rather than structural aspects of intergroup security dilemmas, and recommends solutions based on institution and confidence building, see David A. Lake and Donald Rothchild, "Containing Fear: The Origins and Management of Ethnic Conflict," International Security, Vol. 21, No. 1 (Fall 1996), pp. 41-75. 7. Although, in principle, final political arrangements could be based on either regional autonomy or separate sovereignty, in practice, demographic separation is likely to be...
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Social scientists often attribute moderation of the political salience of ethnicity in ethnically diverse societies to the presence of cross-cutting cleavages - that is, to dimensions of identity or interest along which members of the same ethnic group may have diverse allegiances. Yet, estimating the causal effects of cross-cutting cleavages is difficult. In this article, we present experimental results that help explain why ethnicity has a relatively minor political role in Mali, an ethnically heterogeneous sub-Saharan African country in which ethnic identity is a poor predictor of vote choice and parties do not form along ethnic lines. We argue that the cross-cutting ties afforded by an informal institution called “cousinage” help explain the weak association between ethnicity and individual vote choice. The experimental research design we introduce may be useful in many other settings.
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Recent studies have found evidence linking Africa's current under-development to colonial rule and the slave trade. Given that these events ended long ago, why do they continue to matter today? I develop a model, exhibiting path dependence, which provides one explanation for why these past events may have lasting impacts. The model has multiple equilibria: one equilibrium with secure property rights and a high level of production and others with insecure property rights and low levels of production. I show that external extraction, when severe enough, causes a society initially in the high production equilibrium to move to a low production equilibrium. Because of the stability of low production equilibria, the society remains trapped in this suboptimal equilibrium even after the period of external extraction ends. The model provides one explanation why Africa's past events continue to matter today.
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In this paper we propose a variance estimator for the OLS estimator as well as for nonlinear estimators such as logit, probit and GMM. This variance estimator en- ables cluster-robust inference when there is two-way or multi-way clustering that is non-nested. The variance estimator extends the standard cluster-robust variance es- timator or sandwich estimator for one-way clustering (e.g. Liang and Zeger (1986), Arellano (1987)) and relies on similar relatively weak distributional assumptions. Our method is easily implemented in statistical packages, such as Stata and SAS, that already o�er cluster-robust standard errors when there is one-way clustering. The method is demonstrated by a Monte Carlo analysis for a two-way random ef- fects model; a Monte Carlo analysis of a placebo law that extends the state-year e�ects example of Bertrand et al. (2004) to two dimensions; and by application to studies in the empirical literature where two-way clustering is present.
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Estimating the effect of an exposure on an outcome, other than through some given mediator, requires adjustment for all risk factors of the mediator that are also associated with the outcome. When these risk factors are themselves affected by the exposure, then standard regression methods do not apply. In this article, I review methods for accommodating this and discuss their limitations for estimating the controlled direct effect (ie, the exposure effect when controlling the mediator at a specified level uniformly in the population). In addition, I propose a powerful and easy-to-apply alternative that uses G-estimation in structural nested models to address these limitations both for cohort and case-control studies.
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Can part of Africa's current underdevelopment be explained by its slave trades? To explore this question, I use data from shipping records and historical documents reporting slave ethnicities to construct estimates of the number of slaves exported from each country during Africa's slave trades. I find a robust negative relationship between the number of slaves exported from a country and current economic performance. To better understand if the relationship is causal, I examine the historical evidence on selection into the slave trades and use instrumental variables. Together the evidence suggests that the slave trades had an adverse effect on economic development.
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Four major frameworks have been developed for evaluating surrogate markers in randomized trials: one based on conditional independence of observable variables, another based on direct and indirect effects, a third based on a meta-analysis, and a fourth based on principal stratification. The first two of these fit into a paradigm we call the causal-effects (CE) paradigm, in which, for a good surrogate, the effect of treatment on the surrogate, combined with the effect of the surrogate on the clinical outcome, allow prediction of the effect of the treatment on the clinical outcome. The last two approaches fall into the causal-association (CA) paradigm, in which the effect of the treatment on the surrogate is associated with its effect on the clinical outcome. We consider the CE paradigm first, and consider identifying assumptions and some simple estimation procedures; we then consider the CA paradigm. We examine the relationships among these approaches and associated estimators. We perform a small simulation study to illustrate properties of the various estimators under different scenarios, and conclude with a discussion of the applicability of both paradigms.
Article
Although formal work on war generally sees war as a kind of bargaining breakdown resulting from asymmetric information, bargaining indivisibilities, or commitment problems, most analyses have focused on informational issues. But informational explanations and the models underlying them have at least two major limitations: they often provide a poor account of prolonged conflict, and they give an odd reading of the history of some cases. This article describes these limitations and argues that bargaining indivisibilities should really be seen as commitment problems. The present analysis then shows that a common mechanism links three important kinds of commitment problem: (1) preventive war, (2) preemptive attacks arising from first-strike or offensive advantages, and (3) conflicts resulting from bargaining over issues that affect future bargaining power. In each case, large, rapid shifts in the distribution of power can lead to war. Finally, the analysis elaborates a distinctly different mechanism based on a comparison of the cost of deterring an attack on the status quo with the expected cost of trying to eliminate the threat to the status quo.For helpful comments and criticisms, I thank James Fearon, Hein Goemans, Lisa Martin, Sebastian Mazzuca, Branislav Slantchev, and seminar participants at the University of Montreal McGill Research Group in International Security, the Institute in Mathematical Behavioral Sciences, University of California, Irvine, and University of California, Santa Barbara. I also gratefully acknowledge the support of the National Science Foundation (SES-0315037).
On the size and shape of African states
  • Elliott Green
Pre-colonial ethnic institutions and contemporary African development
  • Stelios Michalopoulos
  • Elias Papaioannou