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