The effect of renewable natural resource scarcity on ethnic conflict: An analysis of minorities at risk, 1985-1998



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Texas Tech University


This work looks at the effect of renewable natural resource scarcity on ethnic conflict. The work takes its roots from literature on environmental security and applies the study of renewable natural resource scarcity and acute conflict to the study of ethnic conflict. The theoretical framework utilized is ethnic competition and the ethnic security dilemma.

Determining how renewable natural resource scarcity affects ethnic conflict requires multiple levels of inquiry. First, is there a relationship between renewable natural resource scarcity and ethnic conflict. Second, if this relationship exists how does it franslate into ethnic conflict. Third, does the framework established have evidentiary support in particular cases that can be considered.

To address these three levels of inquiry, both large N statistical analysis and case study analysis is used. The large N analysis uses data taken from a variety of sources, particularly the Minorities at Risk project, the World Resource Institute, the World Bank, the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency, the United Nations, and Keesing's World Record. Using ordered logistic regressions, and panel-corrected standard error cross-sectional time-series regressions a relationship is shown to exist between renewable natural resource scarcity and ethnic conflict. Further, using the same techniques a relationship is proven between renewable natural resources and key mechanisms that allow ethnic conflict to be affected.

Finally, four cases are examined. The four individual cases look at states where there was low scarcity and low conflict, high scarcity and low conflict, low scarcity and high conflict, and high scarcity and high conflict. The case studies are conducted to see if a process can be traced that reinforces the findings of the statistical analysis conducted.

Findings give a mixture of results. The findings suggest that a relationship exists statistically between renewable natural resource scarcity and ethnic conflict. They also suggest that only certain combinations of scarcity and mechanisms effect ethnic conflict. Finally, the cases suggest that in addition to these effects found to exist statistically, that there are other factors that must be considered, such as strategic decision making by both the leadership of ethnic groups and the state.



Ethnic groups, Culture conflict, Ethnic conflict, Environmental degradation -- Social aspects, Conflict management, Renewable natural resources -- Developing countries, Conservation of natural resources, Nevada