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An Evaluation of “Does Economic Inequality Breed Political Conflict?” Studies

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  13 June 2011

Mark Irving Lichbach
University of Illinois
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Contradictory findings, that economic inequality may have a positive, negative, or no impact on political conflict, are a puzzle for conflict studies. Three approaches have been used t o explain the inconsistent findings of the EI-PC (Economic Inequality-Political Conflict) nexus: statistical modeling, formal modeling, and theory building. Because analysts have tended to possess different research skills, these three approaches have been employed in isolation from one another. Singly, however, all three approaches have proved deficient and are unlikely to solve the EI-PC puzzle. The most fruitful approach is to combine the assumptions of the theory builders and the deductive approach of the formal modelers with the various empirical tests of the statistical modelers. Such an approach to the EI-PC puzzle produces a crucial test of the Deprived Actor and Rational Actor theories of conflict. The approach is also our best hope for solving the other long-standing puzzles in conflict studies.

Research Article
Copyright © Trustees of Princeton University 1989

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189 Recall that Aristotle and Plato offered much more than the citations and more than most of their contemporary admirers have offered: explanations of the EI-PC nexus (i.e., theories of jtistice). Perhaps we should declare a moratorium on EI-PC citations from Aristotle and Plato.

190 Zimmerman (fn. 6).

191 Gurr's (fn. 22) work on discriminated against and separatist groups is thus seminal and crucial.

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