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How Exposure to Violence Affects Ethnic Voting


How does wartime exposure to ethnic violence affect the political preferences of ordinary citizens? Are high-violence communities more or less likely to reject the politicization of ethnicity post-war? We argue that community-level experience with wartime violence solidifies ethnic identities, fosters intra-ethnic cohesion and increases distrust toward non-co-ethnics, thereby making ethnic parties the most attractive channels of representation and contributing to the politicization of ethnicity. Employing data on wartime casualties at the community level and pre- as well as post-war election results in Bosnia, we find strong support for this argument. The findings hold across a number of robustness checks. Using post-war survey data, we also provide evidence that offers suggestive support for the proposed causal mechanism.

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PhD candidate, Department of Political Science, Washington University in St. Louis (email:;; Professor, Department of Political Science, Washington University in St. Louis (email: We thank the editor and anonymous reviewers for their helpful insights. Support for this research was provided by the Weidenbaum Center on the Economy, Government, and Public Policy at Washington University in St. Louis. Data replication files are available at Hadzic, Carlson and Tavits (2017) and also in Harvard Dataverse at: Online appendices are available at

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