Ethnic minority rule and civil war onset how identity salience, fiscal policy, and natural resource profiles moderate outcomes

Dan Miodownik, Ravi Bhavnani*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Scopus citations


Using an agent-based computational framework designed to explore the incidence of conflict between two nominally rival ethnic groups, we demonstrate that the impact of ethnic minority rule on civil war onset could be more nuanced than posited in the literature. By testing the effects of three key moderating variables on ethnic minority rule, our analysis demonstrates that: (i) when ethnicity is assumed to be salient for all individuals, conflict onset increases with size of the minority in power, although when salience is permitted to vary, onset decreases as minority and majority approach parity; (ii) fiscal policy-the spending and investment decisions of the minority EGIP-moderates conflict; conflict decreases when leaders make sound decisions, increases under corrupt regimes, and peaks under ethno-nationalist regimes that place a premium on territorial conquest; and lastly (iii) natural resources-their type and distribution-affect the level of conflict which is lowest in agrarian economies, higher in the presence of lootable resources, and still higher when lootable resource are "diffuse". Our analysis generates a set of propositions to be tested empirically, subject to data availability.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)438-458
Number of pages21
JournalConflict Management and Peace Science
Issue number5
StatePublished - Nov 2011

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Author names are listed in reverse alphabetical order. Support for this work was provided by the Center for the Advanced Study of International Development at Michigan State University, the Hebrew University Intramural Research Fund, and the Israeli Science Foundation (Grant #330/07).


  • agent-based modeling
  • civil war
  • ethnic minority rule
  • political exclusion


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