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Shared interests foster interethnic cooperation among politicians

Daniel Butler and Margit Tavits

Political Science Research and Methods, 2021, vol. 9, issue 3, 627-640

Abstract: Ethnic relations play an important political role in many countries and can have serious consequences for policy and stability, with many conflicts occurring along ethnic lines. While most studies on ethnic relations focus on the behavior of the general public, ethnic bias among political elites may be equally consequential but remains understudied. This study explores tools that improve interethnic cooperation among politicians in governance (rather than electoral competition). We argue that shared interests incentivize elites to overcome ethnic bias. We conduct two experiments (one survey and one lab-in-the-field) with local politicians in Bosnia and Herzegovina and find support for this expectation, i.e., concrete information about shared policy priorities and goals foster interethnic cooperation.

Date: 2021
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