Abstract

We present a model of conflict, in which discriminatory government policy or social intolerance is responsive to various forms of ethnic activism, including violence. It is this perceived responsiveness captured by the probability that the government gives in and accepts a proposed change in ethnic policy that induces individuals to mobilize in support for their cause. Yet, mobilization is costly and demonstrators have to be compensated accordingly. Individuals have to weigh their ethnic radicalism with their material well-being to determine the size of their money contribution to the cause. Our main results are: (i) a one-sided increase in radicalism or in population size increases conflict; (ii) a one-sided increase in income has ambiguous effects depending on the elasticity of contributions to income; (iii) an increase in within-group inequality increases conflict; and (iv) an increase in the correlation between ethnic radicalism and inequality also increases conflict.