Skip to main content Accessibility help

How Exposure to Violence Affects Ethnic Voting

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  04 December 2017


How does wartime exposure to ethnic violence affect the political preferences of ordinary citizens? Are high-violence communities more or less likely to reject the politicization of ethnicity post-war? We argue that community-level experience with wartime violence solidifies ethnic identities, fosters intra-ethnic cohesion and increases distrust toward non-co-ethnics, thereby making ethnic parties the most attractive channels of representation and contributing to the politicization of ethnicity. Employing data on wartime casualties at the community level and pre- as well as post-war election results in Bosnia, we find strong support for this argument. The findings hold across a number of robustness checks. Using post-war survey data, we also provide evidence that offers suggestive support for the proposed causal mechanism.

© Cambridge University Press 2017 

Access options

Get access to the full version of this content by using one of the access options below.



PhD candidate, Department of Political Science, Washington University in St. Louis (email:;; Professor, Department of Political Science, Washington University in St. Louis (email: We thank the editor and anonymous reviewers for their helpful insights. Support for this research was provided by the Weidenbaum Center on the Economy, Government, and Public Policy at Washington University in St. Louis. Data replication files are available at Hadzic, Carlson and Tavits (2017) and also in Harvard Dataverse at: Online appendices are available at


Acharya, Avidit, Blackwell, Matthew, and Sen, Maya. 2016. Explaining Causal Findings Without Bias: Detecting and Assessing Direct Effects. American Political Science Review 110 (3):512529.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Alesina, Alberto, Baqir, Reza, and Easterly, William. 1999. Public Goods and Ethnic Divisions. Quarterly Journal of Economics 114 (4):12431284.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Alexander, Marcus, and Christia, Fotini. 2011. Context Modularity of Human Altruism. Science 334 (6061):13921394.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Bakke, Kristin M., Cao, Xun, O’Loughlin, John, and Ward, Michael D.. 2009. Social Distance in Bosnia-Herzegovina and the North Caucasus Region of Russia: Inter and Intra-Ethnic Attitudes and Identities. Nations and Nationalism 15 (2):227253.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Balcells, Laia. 2012. The Consequences of Victimization on Political Identities: Evidence from Spain. Politics and Society 40 (3):311347.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Ball, Patrick, Tabeau, Ewa, and Verwimp, Philip. 2007. The Bosnian Book of Dead: Assessment of the Database (Full Report). Falmer: HiCN-Households in Conflict Network.Google Scholar
Bar-Tal, Daniel. 2003. Collective Memory of Physical Violence: Its Contribution to the Culture of Violence. Pp. 7793 in The Role of Memory in Ethnic Conflict, edited by Ed Cairns and Micheál D. Roe. Houndsmills, Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Beber, Bernd, Roessler, Philip, and Scacco, Alexandra. 2014. Intergroup Violence and Political Attitudes: Evidence from a Dividing Sudan. Journal of Politics 76 (3):649665.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Bellows, John, and Miguel, Edward. 2009. War and Local Collective Action in Sierra Leone. Journal of Public Economics 93 (11/12):11441157.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Blattman, Christopher. 2009. From Violence to Voting: War and Political Participation in Uganda. American Political Science Review 103 (2):231247.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Blattman, Christopher, and Miguel, Edward. 2010. Civil War. Journal of Economic Literature 48 (1):357.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Cassar, Alessandra, Grosjean, Pauline, and Whitt, Sam. 2013. Legacies of Violence: Trust and Market Development. Journal of Economic Growth 18 (3):285318.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Chandra, Kanchan. 2004. Why Ethnic Parties Succeed: Patronage and Ethnic Head Counts in India. New York: Cambridge University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Chandra, Kanchan, ed. 2012. Constructivist Theories of Ethnic Politics. New York: Oxford University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Christia, Fotini. 2008. Following the Money: Muslim versus Muslim in Bosnia’s Civil War. Comparative Politics 40 (4):461480.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Collier, Paul, Elliott, Lani, Hegre, Håvard, Hoeffler, Anke, Reynal-Querol, Marta, and Sambanis, Nicholas. 2003. Breaking the Conflict Trap: Civil War and Development Policy. Washington, DC: World Bank and Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
Costalli, Stefano, and Ruggeri, Andrea. 2015. Forging Political Entrepreneurs: Civil War Effects on Post-Conflict Politics in Italy. Political Geography 44 (1):4049.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
De Luca, Giacomo, and Verpoorten, Marijke. 2015. Civil War, Social Capital and Resilience in Uganda. Oxford Economic Papers 67 (3):661686.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
DiPasquale, Denise, and Glaeser, Edward L.. 1998. The Los Angeles Riot and the Economics of Urban Unrest. Journal of Urban Economics 43 (1):5278.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Driscoll, Jesse. 2015. Warlords and Coalition Politics in Post-Soviet States. New York: Cambridge University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Dyrstad, Karin. 2012. After Ethnic Civil War: Ethno-Nationalism in the Western Balkans. Journal of Peace Research 49 (6):817831.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Dyrstad, Karin. 2013. Does Civil War Breed Authoritarian Values? An Empirical Study of Bosnia-Herzegovina, Kosovo and Croatia. Democratization 20 (7):12191242.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Fearon, James D., and Laitin, David D.. 2000. Violence and the Social Construction of Ethnic Identity. International Organization 54 (4):845877.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Gilligan, Michael, Pasquale, Benjamin, and Samii, Cyrus. 2014. Civil War and Social Cohesion: Lab-in-the-Field Evidence from Nepal. American Journal of Political Science 58 (3):604619.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Glaurdić, Josip, and Vuković, Vuk. 2016. Voting After War: Legacy of Conflict and the Economy as Determinants of Electoral Support in Croatia. Electoral Studies 42 (NA):135145.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Greig, J. Michael, and Diehl, Paul F.. 2005. The Peacekeeping-Peacemaking Dilemma. International Studies Quarterly 49 (4):621645.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Grossman, Guy, Manekin, Devorah, and Miodownik, Dan. 2015. The Political Legacies of Combat: Attitudes toward War and Peace among Israeli Ex-Combatants. International Organization 69 (4):9811009.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Gurr, Ted Robert. 2000. Peoples versus States: Minorities at Risk in the New Century. Washington, DC: United States Institute of Peace Press.Google Scholar
Hadzic, Dino, Carlson, David, and Tavits, Margit. 2017. “Replication Data for: How Exposure to Violence Affects Ethnic Voting”, doi:10.7910/DVN/EUAIFA, Harvard Dataverse, V1, UNF:6:Zz4h6NKqi2X1OTw3hFSsug==.Google Scholar
Laitin, David D. 1998. Identity in Formation: The Russian-Speaking Populations in the Near Abroad. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press.Google Scholar
Manning, Carrie. 2007. Party-Building on the Heels of War: El Salvador, Bosnia, Kosovo and Mozambique. Democratization 14 (2):253272.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Maoz, Ifat, and McCauley, Clark. 2005. Psychological Correlates of Support for Compromise: A Polling Study of Jewish-Israeli Attitudes toward Solutions to the Israeli–Palestinian Conflict. Political Psychology 26 (5):791807.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Massey, Garth, Hodson, Randy, and Sekulić, Duško. 2003. Nationalism, Liberalism and Liberal Nationalism in Post-War Croatia. Nations and Nationalism 9 (1):5582.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Matanock, Aila M. 2016. Using Violence, Seeking Votes: Introducing the Militant Group Electoral Participation (MGEP) Dataset. Journal of Peace Research 53 (6):845853.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Matanock, Aila M.. 2017. Bullets for Ballots: Electoral Participation Provisions and Enduring Peace After Civil Conflict. International Security 41 (4):93132.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Mikami, Satoru, and Katayanagi, Mari. 2014. Property Restitution and Return: Revisiting the Case of Bosnia and Herzegovina. Working Paper No. 75, JICA Research Institute. Available from, accessed 1 February 2015.Google Scholar
Nenadić, Mario, Džepar-Ganibegović, Nermina, Lipjankić, Medžid, Borovčanin, Drago, Spasojević, Nada, Kovač, Dragana, and Pobrić, Abela. 2005. Comparative Analysis on Access to Rights of Refugees and Displaced Persons. Sarajevo: Ministry of Human Rights and Refugees.Google Scholar
O’Loughlin, John. 2010. Inter-Ethnic Friendships in Post-War Bosnia-Herzegovina: Sociodemographic and Place Influences. Ethnicities 10 (1):2654.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Olzak, Susan. 1992. The Dynamics of Ethnic Competition and Conflict. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press.Google Scholar
OSCE – Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights. 1997. Bosnia and Herzegovina Municipal Elections: 13–14 September 1997. Available from, accessed 10 January 2017.Google Scholar
Posner, Daniel N. 2005. Institutions and Ethnic Politics in Africa. New York: Cambridge University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Pugh, Michael, and Cobble, Margaret. 2001. Non-Nationalist Voting in Bosnian Municipal Elections: Implications for Democracy and Peacebuilding. Journal of Peace Research 38 (1):2747.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Regan, Patrick M. 2002. Third-Party Interventions and the Duration of Intrastate Conflicts. Journal of Conflict Resolution 46 (1):5573.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Research and Documentation Center Sarajevo. 2008. Human Loses in Bosnia and Herzegovina 91–95. Sarajevo: RDC.Google Scholar
Rohner, Dominic, Thoenig, Mathias, and Zilibotti, Fabrizio. 2013a. Seeds of Distrust: Conflict in Uganda. Journal of Economic Research 18 (3):217251.Google Scholar
Rohner, Dominic, Thoenig, Mathias, and Zilibotti, Fabrizio. 2013b. War Signals: A Theory of Trade, Trust, and Conflict. Review of Economic Studies 80 (3):11141147.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Sambanis, Nicholas, and Shayo, Moses. 2013. Social Identification and Ethnic Conflict. American Political Science Review 107 (2):294325.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Sambró i Melero, Maria Virtuts. 2009. Contextualització I Anàlisi De Les Eleccions Del 18 De Novembre De 1990 A La R. S. De Bòsnia I Hercegovina. Barcelona: Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona.Google Scholar
Slack, J. Andrew, and Doyon, Roy R.. 2001. Population Dynamics and Susceptibility for Ethnic Conflict: The Case of Bosnia and Herzegovina. Journal of Peace Research 38 (2):139161.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Strabac, Zan, and Ringdal, Kristen. 2008. Individual and Contextual Influences of War on Ethnic Prejudice in Croatia. Sociological Quarterly 49 (4):769796.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Swee, Eik Leong. 2015a. On War Intensity and Schooling Attainment: The Case of Bosnia and Herzegovina. European Journal of Political Economy 40 (A):158172.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Swee, Eik Leong. 2015b. Together or Separate? Post-Conflict Partition, Ethnic Homogenization, and the Provision of Public Schooling. Journal of Public Economics 128 (NA):115.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Tabeau, Ewa, Żółtkowski, Marcin, Bijak, Jakub, and Hetland, Arve. 2006. Ethnic Composition, Internally Displaced Persons and Refugees from Eight Municipalities of Herceg-Bosna, 1991 to 1997–98. Expert Report for the Case of Jadranko Prlić et al. (IT-04-74-PT), The Hague: ICTY.Google Scholar
Tajfel, Henri, and Turner, John. 1986. The Social Identity Theory of Intergroup Behavior. Pp. 724 in Psychology of Intergroup Relations, edited by Stephen Worchel and William G. Austin. Chicago, IL: Nelson-Hall.Google Scholar
Tavits, Margit, and Letki, Natalia. 2014. From Values to Interests? The Evolution of Party Competition in New Democracies. Journal of Politics 76 (1):246258.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Tavits, Margit, and Potter, Joshua D.. 2015. The Effect of Inequality and Identity on Party Strategies. American Journal of Political Science 59 (3):744758.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Tuathail, Gearóid Ó., and O’Loughlin, John. 2009. After Ethnic Cleansing: Return Outcomes in Bosnia-Herzegovina a Decade Beyond War. Annals of the Association of American Geographers 99 (5):10451053.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
UNHCR – The UN Refugee Agency. 2004. Bosnia and Herzegovina Welcomes over 1 Million Returnees. Available from, accessed 1 February 2015.Google Scholar
United Nations Commission of Experts. 1994. Final Report of the United Nations Commission of Experts Established Pursuant to Security Council Resolution 780, Annex VIII Prison Camps . New York: United Nations.Google Scholar
Voors, Maarten J., Nillesen, Eleonora E. M., Verwimp, Philip, Bulte, Erwin H., Lensink, Robert, and Van Soest, Daan P.. 2012. Violence Conflict and Behavior: A Field Experiment in Burundi. American Economic Review 102 (2):941964.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Ward, Michael D., O’Loughlin, John, Bakke, Kristin M., and Cao, Xun. 2006. Cooperation Without Trust in Conflict-Ridden Societies: Survey Results from Bosnia and the North Caucasus. Working paper, Department of Political Science, Duke University.Google Scholar
Whitt, Sam. 2010. Institutions and Ethnic Trust: Evidence from Bosnia. Europe-Asia Studies 62 (2):271292.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Whitt, Sam. 2014. Social Norms in the Aftermath of Ethnic Violence: Ethnicity and Fairness in Non-Costly Decision Making. Journal of Conflict Resolution 58 (1):93119.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Whitt, Sam, and Wilson, Rick K.. 2007. The Dictator Game, Fairness and Ethnicity in Postwar Bosnia. American Journal of Political Science 51 (3):655668.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Wilkinson, Steven I. 2004. Votes and Violence: Electoral Competition and Ethnic Riots in India. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Wood, Elisabeth Jean. 2003. Insurgent Collective Action and Civil War in El Salvador. New York: Cambridge University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Wood, Elisabeth Jean. 2008. The Social Processes of Civil War: The Wartime Transformation of Social Networks. Annual Review of Political Science 11 (1):539561.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Hadzic et al. Dataset


Hadzic et al. supplementary material

Hadzic et al. supplementary material 1

PDF 905 KB

Altmetric attention score

Full text views

Full text views reflects PDF downloads, PDFs sent to Google Drive, Dropbox and Kindle and HTML full text views.

Total number of HTML views: 149
Total number of PDF views: 735 *
View data table for this chart

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between 04th December 2017 - 18th January 2021. This data will be updated every 24 hours.

Hostname: page-component-77fc7d77f9-w9qs9 Total loading time: 0.297 Render date: 2021-01-18T12:22:28.860Z Query parameters: { "hasAccess": "0", "openAccess": "0", "isLogged": "0", "lang": "en" } Feature Flags last update: Mon Jan 18 2021 12:03:03 GMT+0000 (Coordinated Universal Time) Feature Flags: { "metrics": true, "metricsAbstractViews": false, "peerReview": true, "crossMark": true, "comments": true, "relatedCommentaries": true, "subject": true, "clr": true, "languageSwitch": true, "figures": false, "newCiteModal": false, "shouldUseShareProductTool": true, "shouldUseHypothesis": true, "isUnsiloEnabled": true }

Send article to Kindle

To send this article to your Kindle, first ensure is added to your Approved Personal Document E-mail List under your Personal Document Settings on the Manage Your Content and Devices page of your Amazon account. Then enter the ‘name’ part of your Kindle email address below. Find out more about sending to your Kindle. Find out more about sending to your Kindle.

Note you can select to send to either the or variations. ‘’ emails are free but can only be sent to your device when it is connected to wi-fi. ‘’ emails can be delivered even when you are not connected to wi-fi, but note that service fees apply.

Find out more about the Kindle Personal Document Service.

How Exposure to Violence Affects Ethnic Voting
Available formats

Send article to Dropbox

To send this article to your Dropbox account, please select one or more formats and confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your <service> account. Find out more about sending content to Dropbox.

How Exposure to Violence Affects Ethnic Voting
Available formats

Send article to Google Drive

To send this article to your Google Drive account, please select one or more formats and confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your <service> account. Find out more about sending content to Google Drive.

How Exposure to Violence Affects Ethnic Voting
Available formats

Reply to: Submit a response

Your details

Conflicting interests

Do you have any conflicting interests? *