Ethnic Inequality and Forced Displacement

Tilman Brück, Moritz Hennicke, and Antje Schumann

Universite Libre de Bruxelles, ECARES Working Paper 2018-27, October 2018


This paper examines how inequality and ethnicity relate to victimization in ethnic conflicts, by studying forced displacement in Kyrgyzstan in 2010. Ethnic resentments and socio-economic grievances between the two largest ethnic groups, Kyrgyz and Uzbeks, were major drivers of the conflict, which left more than 400 dead and displaced 375,000 people out of a total population of 6 million. The authors investigate whether displaced individuals were advantaged/disadvantaged within and between ethnic groups. They use secondary education to measure socioeconomic inequality. Variation across districts (controlling for the distance to violence) demonstrates that communities with higher disparities in education within and between Kyrgyz and Uzbeks experienced higher displacement rates. The authors find that socio-economic advantage matters differently within an ethnic group (vertical inequality), and between ethnic groups (horizontal inequality). Socioeconomic advantage within an ethnic group increased the likelihood that an individual was displaced, but decreased the likelihood of displacement compared to the other ethnic group. Highly educated individuals above the last quintile of their own ethnicity’s local distribution (vertical inequality) exhibited a tendency to be displaced. Highly educated individuals above the last quintile of the other ethnicity’s local distribution (horizontal inequality) were more likely to stay.