Campus Only Senior Thesis
Bachelor of Arts
© Michaela E. Moffett
Recent large-N studies conclude that inequality and ethnic distribution have no significant impact on the risk of civil conflict. This study argues that such conclusions are erroneous and premature due to incorrect specification of independent variables and functional forms. Case studies suggest that measures of inter-group inequality (horizontal inequality) and polarization (ethnic distribution distance from a bipolar equilibrium) are more accurate predictors of civil conflict, as they better capture the group-motivation aspect of conflict. This study explores whether indicators of inequality and ethnic distribution impact the probability of civil conflict across 38 developing countries in the period 1986 to 2004. Analysis reveals that horizontal inequality and polarization have significant, robust relationships with civil conflict. Furthermore, vertical, or individual, inequality is a robust, significant predictor of civil conflict when specified as a nonlinear function.
Moffett, Michaela E., "Us and Them: The Role of Inter-Group Distance and Size in Predicting Civil Conflict" (2015). Scripps Senior Theses. 646.
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