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Why Do Ethnic Groups Rebel? New Data and Analysis

  • Lars-Erik Cederman (a1), Andreas Wimmer (a2) and Brian Min (a3)


Much of the quantitative literature on civil wars and ethnic conflict ignores the role of the state or treats it as a mere arena for political competition among ethnic groups. Other studies analyze how the state grants or withholds minority rights and faces ethnic protest and rebellion accordingly, while largely overlooking the ethnic power configurations at the state's center. Drawing on a new data set on Ethnic Power Relations (EPR) that identifies all politically relevant ethnic groups and their access to central state power around the world from 1946 through 2005, the authors analyze outbreaks of armed conflict as the result of competing ethnonationalist claims to state power. The findings indicate that representatives of ethnic groups are more likely to initiate conflict with the government (1) the more excluded from state power they are, especially if they have recently lost power, (2) the higher their mobilizational capacity, and (3) the more they have experienced conflict in the past.



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* Correspondence should be directed to Lars-Erik Cederman (). We would like to thank the many individuals who helped assemble the data set on which this article relies. We cannot list all country experts who generously shared their knowledge, but we should like to mention Dennis Avilés, Yuval Feinstein, Dmitry Gorenburg, Wesley Hiers, Lutz Krebs, Patrick Kuhn, Anoop Sarbahi, James Scarritt, Manuel Vogt, Judith Vorrath, Jürg Weder, and Christoph Zürcher. Luc Girardin implemented the software for the online expert survey. The authors acknowledge financial support from the Swiss National Science Foundation through Grant no. 105511-116795, and from UCLA's International Institute. We are grateful for helpful comments by the editors and anonymous referees of this journal, Kristian Skrede Gleditsch, Simon Hug, and Idean Salehyan, as well as audiences at ETH Zürich, the Graduate Institute of International Studies in Geneva, Hebrew University in Jerusalem, University of St. Gallen, and Princeton University.

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Why Do Ethnic Groups Rebel? New Data and Analysis

  • Lars-Erik Cederman (a1), Andreas Wimmer (a2) and Brian Min (a3)


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