Why Ethnic Fractionalization? Polarization, Ethnic Conflict and Growth

UPF Economics and Business Working Paper No. 660

44 Pages Posted: 10 Aug 2003

See all articles by José García Montalvo

José García Montalvo

Universitat Pompeu Fabra - Faculty of Economic and Business Sciences

Marta Reynal-Querol

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

Date Written: September 2002

Abstract

This paper is an attempt to clarify the relationship between ethnic fractionalization, polarization and conflict. In recent years many authors have argued that ethnic fractionalization has a negative effect on growth because it increases the likelihood of conflicts. For this reason many growth regressions include the level of ethnic fractionalization as a basic regressor. However the empirical evidence supporting the effect of ethnic fractionalization on the incidence of civil war is very weak. We argue that the index of ethnic fractionalization is not an appropriate measure of potential ethnic conflict. We discuss the intuitive appeal of indices of polarization in the context of conflictive situations. We show that the RQ index of polarization can be derived from a simple rent seeking model and it is the only discrete polarization measure that satisfies the basic properties of polarization. The empirical section shows the importance of the RQ index of polarization in the explanation of the incidence of civil wars.

Keywords: Ethnic heterogeneity, civil wars, economic developement

JEL Classification: O11, Z12, O55

Suggested Citation

García Montalvo, José and Reynal-Querol, Marta, Why Ethnic Fractionalization? Polarization, Ethnic Conflict and Growth (September 2002). UPF Economics and Business Working Paper No. 660, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=394926 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.394926

José García Montalvo (Contact Author)

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

Ramon Trias Fargas 25-27
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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