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Looking beyond borders: Identification, information and the diffusion of conflicts.

22 February 2012

Janina Beiser

This work tests empirically whether demonstration effects between groups involved in conflicts and groups in other countries help explaining the diffusion of ethnic as well as intra-state conflicts in general between countries. Demonstration effects are hypothesized to rely on identification and information as opposed to geographical proximity.

Three factors are hypothesized to increase identification between groups in different countries that can facilitate the spill-over of conflicts: Firstly, ethnically discriminated groups’ involvement in conflicts increases the likelihood of conflict diffusion to countries with higher numbers of discriminated groups, secondly ethnic distinctions in conflicts in general increase the likelihood of conflict diffusion to countries that are ethnically more polarized and thirdly diffusion of intra-state conflicts in general is more likely to countries with similar regimes.

The first identification factor is found to be limited to countries with lower number of ethnic groups suggesting that in countries with higher numbers of discriminated groups governments may take preventive measures against spill-overs. The impact of the second and the third identification factors is found to be positive but statistically not significant. The general hypotheses were retested in relation to information-enhancing factors such as media availability and openness.

Findings weakly suggest that these factors increase the impact of inspirational events under hypothesis one but not under the other hypotheses.