University Of Tasmania

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The impact of cultural heterogeneity on violence in Indonesia: fractionalisation versus polarisation

journal contribution
posted on 2023-05-21, 09:47 authored by Sanjaya, MR, Swee-Hoon ChuahSwee-Hoon Chuah, Feeny, S, Jean Robert HoffmannJean Robert Hoffmann
The determinants of large-scale conflict have been examined extensively in the academic literature. The factors contributing to everyday violence have received less attention despite this smaller-scale conflict having a high human and economic cost. We analyse a dataset at the level of 495 Indonesian districts to estimate the determinants of non-domestic, small-scale violence prevalent in this nation. We focus on the role of pronounced cultural heterogeneity that characterizes Indonesia and contribute to the literature by empirically testing whether established conflict theory holds for smaller scale violence data in the case of Indonesia. Ethnic polarization (rather than fractionalization) is the main driver of conflict intensity, suggesting that district-level conflicts are commonly over public goods. Cultural heterogeneity has a curvilinear effect on conflict. It increases the intensity of violence up to a point, after which the level decreases. Overall, our results offer some support for the Esteban and Ray model of conflict.


Publication title

Applied Economics









Place of publication

United Kingdom

Rights statement

© 2022 Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group

Repository Status

  • Restricted

Socio-economic Objectives

Preference, behaviour and welfare