Ethnicity and violence during democratic transitions: evidence from South Africa

Amodio, F and Chiovelli, G (2018) Ethnicity and violence during democratic transitions: evidence from South Africa. Journal of the European Economic Association, 16 (4). pp. 1234-1280. ISSN 1542-4766 OPEN ACCESS


This paper shows that ethnic diversity within the disenfranchised majority matters for the incidence of violence during democratization. We study the relationship between ethnicity and conflict in South Africa during the fall of apartheid. Migration flows following the implementation and repeal of apartheid segregation laws induce cross-sectional and time variation in the ethnic composition of districts. Using Census data from the years before and after democratization, we compare the evolution of conflict across districts experiencing differential changes in ethnic composition. We find that ethnic diversity and inequality within the black majority both correlate strongly and positively with the incidence of armed confrontations between black-dominated groups. Results suggest that during democratic transitions ethnic markers can become a salient technology to separate individuals into well-identified groups and mobilize them for political violence.

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Item Type: Article
Subject Areas: Economics
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This is a pre-copyedited, author-produced version of an article accepted for publication in Journal of the European Economic Association following peer review. The version of record: Amodio F & Chiovelli G (2017) 'Ethnicity and violence during democratic transitions: evidence from South Africa' is available online at and

© 2017 Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of European Economic Association

Date Deposited: 01 Nov 2017 16:41
Date of first compliant deposit: 31 Oct 2017
Subjects: Ethnic minorities
Last Modified: 17 Jul 2024 02:06

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