Quarterly Journal of Political Science > Vol 11 > Issue 4

Does Local Ethnic Segregation Lead to Violence?: Evidence from Kenya

Kimuli Kasara, Columbia University, USA, kk2432@columbia.edu
Suggested Citation
Kimuli Kasara (2017), "Does Local Ethnic Segregation Lead to Violence?: Evidence from Kenya", Quarterly Journal of Political Science: Vol. 11: No. 4, pp 441-470. http://dx.doi.org/10.1561/100.00014115

Publication Date: 20 Feb 2017
© 2017 K. Kasara
Civil conflict,  Comparative politics,  Elections,  Political psychology
Political violenceLocal ethnic demographySegregationKenya


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In this article:
1. Introduction 
2. The Relationship Between Segregation and Violence 
3. Ethnicity and Violence in Rift Valley Province 
4. Empirical Strategy 
5. Findings 
6. Mechanisms 
7. Conclusion 
A. Data Appendix 


When ethnic conflict is likely people seek safety in homogenous neighborhoods, but does the resulting ethnic segregation decrease communal violence? This paper argues that local segregation causes violence by eroding interethnic trust. Although segregation reduces violent disputes between individuals, the possibility of positive interethnic contact is also lower in segregated areas. Where levels of interethnic trust are low, it is easier for political leaders and other extremists to build support for communal violence. I demonstrate that segregation increases the incidence of violence using a new data set measuring ethnic composition and violence across approximately 700 small localities in Kenya's Rift Valley Province during Kenya's 2007/2008 post-election crisis. Because segregation is likely endogenous to violence, I draw on Kenya's history of land settlement to instrument for segregation. I also demonstrate that it is unlikely local segregation increases violence by increasing groups' organizational capacity for violence.