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Competition and Ethnic Conflict: Artifactual?

Douglas Dion
The Journal of Conflict Resolution
Vol. 41, No. 5 (Oct., 1997), pp. 638-648
Published by: Sage Publications, Inc.
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/174467
Page Count: 11
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Abstract

One of the most important theories of ethnic conflict focuses on the competition hypothesis: conflict occurs between ethnic groups when they interact more rather than when they are kept separated. If true, this theory implies that attempts at desegregation will necessarily be associated with ethnic conflict and violence. The author presents a formal model that suggests that the apparent competition effect uncovered in the empirical literature may, in fact, be spurious. Ethnic conflict can appear to increase with competition, even in the case where individuals are less likely to attack individuals of other ethnicities than members of their own ethnicity. A consideration of some alterations in the basic model suggests that the result is robust. An exploratory exercise shows that after controlling for the selection bias problems involved in studying ethnic conflict, the predicted competition effects disappear.

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