Skip to Content

Department of Political Science

Matthew Wilson on ethnic diversity and risk of conflict

Matthew Wilson re-examines the question of whether certain political institutions increase the risk of conflict in more ethnically diverse settings.  Although scholars generally agree that countries with more ethnic groups are more likely to experience domestic conflict, some argue that specific features such as proportional representation and parliamentary democracy exacerbate the risk of conflict where there is greater diversity. In the forthcoming publication, Professor Wilson shows that this conclusion is based on tests that ignore the impacts of ethnic polarization, or the division of society into a few equally balanced groups based on ethnic differences.  When this is taken into consideration, proportional representation and parliamentary governments are actually associated with a decreased risk of experiencing domestic conflict where ethnic diversity is greatest. The results of the study are important because they help to inform decisions about what institutions policymakers should recommend in countries that have experienced or are at risk for ethnic conflict.

The research is forthcoming in Comparative Political Studies.

Challenge the conventional. Create the exceptional. No Limits.