Graduation Year


Document Type

Campus Only Senior Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts



Reader 1

Kerry Odell

Reader 2

Roberto Pedace

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Terms of Use for work posted in Scholarship@Claremont.

Rights Information

© 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.

This thesis is restricted to the Claremont Colleges current faculty, students, and staff.