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Predicting the Decline of Ethnic Civil War: Was Gurr Right and For the Right Reasons?

Type of publication Peer-reviewed
Publikationsform Original article (peer-reviewed)
Author Cederman Lars-­Erik, Gleditsch Kristian Skrede, Wucherpfennig Julian,
Project Ethnic Inclusion and Power-Sharing Institutions
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Original article (peer-reviewed)

Journal Journal of Peace Research
Title of proceedings Journal of Peace Research


In recent years, scholars have detected a decrease of political violence, although these claims have not remained unopposed. As a contribution to this debate, the current study revisits a somewhat older controversy that traces conflict trends after the end of the Cold War. Responding to the many ominous predictions of surging ethnic warfare, Gurr presented evidence of a pacifying trend since the mid‐1990s and predicted a further decline in ethnic conflict. We leverage more recent data on ethnic groups to evaluate if Gurr was right about the decline of ethnic conflict, and if he was right for the right reasons. Following his explanatory conjecture, we assess whether there has indeed been an increase in governments’ accommodative policies toward ethnic groups and whether such changes drove the decline of ethnic civil war. All in all, we find strong evidence for an account of the pacifying trend that stresses the granting of group rights, regional autonomy and inclusion in power‐sharing, as well as general democratisation and peacekeeping.