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The geography of natural resources, ethnic inequality and civil conflicts

Christian Lessmann and Arne Steinkraus ()

European Journal of Political Economy, 2019, vol. 59, issue C, 33-51

Abstract: We study whether the spatial distribution of natural resources across different ethnic groups within countries causes spatial inequality and the incidence of armed conflict. By providing a theoretical rent-seeking model and analysing a set of geo-coded data for mines, night-time light emissions, local populations and ethnic homelands, we show that the spatial distribution of resources is a major driving factor of ethnic income inequality. Moreover, a spatially unequal distribution of natural resources induces rent-seeking behaviour and thus increases the risk of civil conflicts. Consequently, we extend the perspective of the resource curse to explain cross-country differences in income inequality and the onset of civil conflicts.

Keywords: Natural resources; Minerals; Mines; Night lights; Luminosity; Ethnic income inequality; Spatial inequality; Civil war; Conflict (search for similar items in EconPapers)
JEL-codes: D72 D74 Q32 Q34 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2019
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