Laura Saavedra-Lux

University of Essex, Department of Government

Laura Saavedra-Lux

Horizontal Inequalities in Post-Conflict Societies

Using original data on the level of horizontal inequalities (inequalities between groups in economic, political, or social terms) in post-conflict societies, this study provides one of the first large-N studies to systematically assess whether and how levels of horizontal inequalities (HIs) influence conflict recurrence as well as peace consolidation in post-conflict states.

Most research to date suggests that warring parties return to violence because (economic, ethnic, or other) grievances have not been overcome or because the opportunity costs of violence remain low due to structural factors. Taking a game-theoretic approach, this study argues that persistent (or shifted) HIs give the disadvantaged group (or the to-be disadvantaged group) the incentive and capacity needed to restart violent conflict.

Incentives are given due to the grievances members of a group perceive, which experiences HIs. Capacity is the ability to overcome collective action problems: HIs reinforce a groups’ identity and the ability to mobilize along identity lines. Consequently, decreasing HIs also decreases incentive and capacity for violent conflict and most importantly, makes it more likely that members of different groups will engage with each other in their work and personal space; this fosters an environment of cooperative and pro-social norms.
Consequently, the two main hypotheses are that (i) conflict is more likely to recur when HIs persist or shift post-conflict and that (ii) low levels of HIs post-conflict increase the likelihood of peace consolidation.

In order to analyze conflict recurrence, this study employs a Cox proportional hazards model, where one can account for the time until a certain event takes place (i.e., conflict recurrence). The Cox model assesses the risk that a conflict-dyad will recur conditional on the length of time the conflict-dyad has been at risk along with the independent variables. To study peace consolidation, it employs a logistic regression model to calculate the likelihood that a country-year will experience peace consolidation. Particularly, it uses the Firth’s Penalized Maximum Likelihood Estimation to counter the small-sample bias.