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Colonial legacy, polarization and linguistic disenfranchisement: The case of the Sri Lankan War

Paul Castañeda Dower (), Victor Ginsburgh () and Shlomo Weber

Journal of Development Economics, 2017, vol. 127, issue C, 440-448

Abstract: We introduce a new ethnolinguistic polarization measure that takes into account the impact of historical factors on intergroup relations in Sri Lanka. During the colonial era, intergroup relations changed considerably due, in part, to the uneven spread of the English language on the island and its role in British governance. Accordingly, our measure is sensitive to regional differences in English language acquisition before independence. By using a data set on victims of terrorist attacks by district and war period during the protracted war in Sri Lanka, we find that our measure is more strongly correlated with the number of victims, and is associated with 70% more victims, on average, than is a polarization measure based on the context-independent linguistic distances between groups. Thus, the historical underpinnings of our measure illustrate in a quantitative manner the relevance of history for understanding patterns of civil conflict.

Keywords: Conflict; Polarization; Sri Lanka; Colonial legacy; Linguistic disenfranchisement (search for similar items in EconPapers)
JEL-codes: O15 D74 F54 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2017
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Working Paper: Colonial legacy, polarization and linguistic disenfranchisement: the case of the Sri Lankan War (2017)
Working Paper: Colonial Legacy, Polarization and Linguistic Disenfranchisement: The Case of the Sri Lankan War (2015) Downloads
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