State Capacity, Inequality and Inter-Group Violence in Sub-Saharan Africa: 1989–2011

Journal article

Rudolfsen, Ida (2017) State Capacity, Inequality and Inter-Group Violence in Sub-Saharan Africa: 1989–2011, Civil Wars 19 (2): 118–145.

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Most studies on internal armed conflict focus on the dyadic interaction between the state and a rebel group, leaving less attention to inter-group fighting. Addressing this gap in the literature, this study argues that the interplay between economic and political inequality and weak state capacity increases the risk of non-state conflict. An empirical analysis of 178 non-state conflicts in Sub-Saharan Africa between 1989 and 2011 provides support for the theorized conditional effect, but only for the role of economic inequality. The effect of political exclusion in the context of a weak state is not confirmed, suggesting that such conditions may be more prone to violence of another kind (i.e., mobilization against the state). Overall, these findings highlight the importance of a functioning state for maintaining peaceful inter-group relations, while they also lend support to earlier research that reports divergent effects of economic and political inequalities on civil conflict risk.

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