Paper: Cultural Distance and Ethnic Civil Conflict
Abstract: Ethnically diverse countries are more prone to conflict, but why do some groups engage in conflict while others do not? I show that civil conflict is explained by ethnic groups’ cultural distance to the central government: an increase in cultural distance increases an ethnicity’s propensity to fight over government power. To identify this effect, I leverage within-ethnicity variation in cultural distance to the government resulting from power transitions between ethnic groups over time. I validate my findings through a novel instrumental variables approach. As an instrument for cultural distance, I use differences in ethnic homelands’ exposure to the route of the Bantu expansion, a massive migration that shaped culture in most of sub-Saharan Africa. When exploring mechanisms, I provide evidence that the effects of cultural distance on conflict can be explained by differences in preferences over both the allocation and the type of public goods. By shedding light on which ethnic groups are more likely to rebel at a given point in time, these findings can inform strategies to target conflict prevention efforts.
15:30 a 17:00
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