The Political Boundaries of Ethnic Divisions

46 Pages Posted: 25 May 2018 Last revised: 15 Apr 2021

See all articles by Samuel Bazzi

Samuel Bazzi

Boston University - Department of Economics

Matthew Gudgeon

Boston University

Multiple version iconThere are 2 versions of this paper

Date Written: May 2018

Abstract

This paper argues that redrawing subnational political boundaries can transform ethnic divisions. We use a natural policy experiment in Indonesia to show how the effects of ethnic diversity on conflict depend on the political units within which groups are organized. Redistricting along group lines can reduce conflict, but these gains are undone or even reversed when the new borders introduce greater polarization. These adverse effects of polarization are further amplified around majoritarian elections, consistent with strong incentives to capture new local governments in settings with ethnic favoritism. Overall, our findings illustrate the promise and pitfalls of redistricting in diverse countries.

Suggested Citation

Bazzi, Samuel and Gudgeon, Matthew, The Political Boundaries of Ethnic Divisions (May 2018). NBER Working Paper No. w24625, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3182222

Samuel Bazzi (Contact Author)

Boston University - Department of Economics ( email )

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Boston, MA 02215
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Matthew Gudgeon

Boston University ( email )

595 Commonwealth Avenue
Boston, MA 02215
United States

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