Ethnicity, Insurgency, and Civil War | Study Guide

David D. Laitin, James D. Fearon

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Course Hero. "Ethnicity, Insurgency, and Civil War Study Guide." Course Hero. 23 Nov. 2020. Web. 28 Jan. 2022. <https://www.coursehero.com/lit/Ethnicity-Insurgency-and-Civil-War/>.

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Course Hero. (2020, November 23). Ethnicity, Insurgency, and Civil War Study Guide. In Course Hero. Retrieved January 28, 2022, from https://www.coursehero.com/lit/Ethnicity-Insurgency-and-Civil-War/

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Course Hero. "Ethnicity, Insurgency, and Civil War Study Guide." November 23, 2020. Accessed January 28, 2022. https://www.coursehero.com/lit/Ethnicity-Insurgency-and-Civil-War/.

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Course Hero, "Ethnicity, Insurgency, and Civil War Study Guide," November 23, 2020, accessed January 28, 2022, https://www.coursehero.com/lit/Ethnicity-Insurgency-and-Civil-War/.

Ethnicity, Insurgency, and Civil War | Main Ideas

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Civil War

Laitin and Fearon state that experts make many assumptions about which factors increase the risk of civil violence or civil war. These assumptions are that the end of the Cold War led to the increase in civil war during the 1990s. Another assumption is that a population with different ethnicities, religions, or languages makes a country more at risk for civil war. Laitin and Fearon studied 127 civil wars during the years of 1945–99. They add that despite killing more people than international wars, scholars have not studied civil war enough.

Common Misconceptions

According to Laitin and Fearon, many scholars believe that the increase of civil war in the 1990s was due to the end of the Cold War. After analyzing the data, the authors found this belief to be false. The data shows that when considering other demographic factors such as language, level of democracy, ethnicities, or religion, the end of the Cold War played no significant part in the increase of civil wars.

Ethnicity, Religion, and Language

Laitin and Fearon explain that other scholars believe that ethnicity, religion, and language differences were the main predictors of the risk of civil war. When considering all other factors, the authors found that ethnicity, religion, and language played little role in increasing the risk of civil war. The only exception was when one of the three factors was directly tied to poverty.

Factors that Favor Insurgencies

In their analysis, Laitin and Fearon find that countries with difficult terrains like mountains increase the risk of civil war. Weak local police and corruption create ideal conditions for insurgency. Local knowledge and connections also aid insurgencies. Laitin and Fearon observe that the greatest predictor of civil war risk is poverty. Countries with a per capita income of under $1000 were significantly more at risk for civil war. Poverty also increases the likelihood that a country is financially and politically weak, has high levels of corruption, and has poor infrastructure.

International Recommendation for Preventing Civil War

Laitin and Fearon recommend that foreign organizations learn about factors that lead to weak states with high levels of poverty. They also suggest that international organizations create programs that encourage legal accountability for police, military forces, and government. Laitin and Fearon suggest that international organizations only provide funding on the condition that states agree not to use tactics that are known to aid in rebel recruitment.

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