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Territorial Autonomy in the Shadow of Conflict: Too Little, Too Late?

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  23 April 2015


LARS-ERIK CEDERMAN
Affiliation:
ETH Zürich
SIMON HUG
Affiliation:
Université de Genève
ANDREAS SCHÄDEL
Affiliation:
ETH Zürich
JULIAN WUCHERPFENNIG
Affiliation:
University College London and ETH Zürich

Abstract

This article evaluates the effect of territorial autonomy on the outbreak of internal conflict by analyzing ethnic groups around the world since WWII. Shedding new light on an ongoing debate, we argue that the critics have overstated the case against autonomy policies. Our evidence indicates that decentralization has a significant conflict-preventing effect where there is no prior conflict history. In postconflict settings, however, granting autonomy can still be helpful in combination with central power sharing arrangements. Yet, on its own, postconflict autonomy concessions may be too little, too late. Accounting for endogeneity, we also instrument for autonomy in postcolonial states by exploiting that French, as opposed to British, colonial rule rarely relied on decentralized governance. This identification strategy suggests that naïve analysis tends to underestimate the pacifying influence of decentralization.


Type
Research Article
Copyright
Copyright © American Political Science Association 2015 

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