Ethnic and Religious Polarization and Social Conflict


In this paper we examine the link between ethnic and religious polariza- tion and conflict using interpersonal distances for ethnic and religious attitudes obtained from the World Values Survey. We use the Duclos et al (2004) polar- ization index. We measure conflict by means on an index of social unrest, as well as by the standard conflict onset or incidence based on a threshold number of deaths. Our results show that taking distances into account significantly improves the quality of the fit. Our measure of polarization outperforms the measure used by Montalvo and Reynal-Querol (2005) and the fractionalization index. We also obtain that both ethnic and religious polarization are significant in explaining conflict. The results improve when we use an indicator of social unrest as the dependent variable.