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The Political Boundaries of Ethnic Divisions

Samuel Bazzi and Matthew Gudgeon
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Matthew Gudgeon: Boston University

No WP2018-005, Boston University - Department of Economics - Working Papers Series from Boston University - Department of Economics

Abstract: Policymakers in diverse countries face the persistent challenge of managing ethnic divisions. We argue that redrawing subnational political boundaries can fundamentally reshape these divisions. We use a natural policy experiment in Indonesia to show that changes in the political relevance of ethnic divisions have significant effects on conflict in the short- to medium-run. While redistricting along group lines can increase social stability, these gains are undone and even reversed in newly polarized units. Electoral democracy further amplifies these effects given the large returns to initial control of newly created local governments in settings with ethnic favoritism. Overall, our findings show that the ethnic divisions underlying widely-used diversity measures are neither fixed nor exogenous and instead depend on the political boundaries within which groups are organized. These results illustrate the promise and pitfalls of redistricting policy in diverse countries where it is not feasible for each group to have its own administrative unit.

Keywords: Conflict; Decentralization; Ethnic Divisions; Polarization; Political Boundaries (search for similar items in EconPapers)
JEL-codes: D72 D74 H41 H77 O13 Q34 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
New Economics Papers: this item is included in nep-cdm, nep-dev, nep-pol and nep-sea
Date: 2017-12
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http://www.bu.edu/econ/files/2017/03/The-Political ... hnic-Divisions-1.pdf

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Working Paper: The Political Boundaries of Ethnic Divisions (2018) Downloads
Working Paper: The Political Boundaries of Ethnic Divisions (2018) Downloads
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