Deconstructed Decentralization and Ethnic Conflict
Pineda, Paula Cecilia
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Decentralization, particularly federalism, is often presented as an institutional solution for ethnic conflict. Yet, the literature on decentralization and conflict is inconclusive; some scholars argue that decentralization contains conflict, others argue that it exacerbates conflict, and more recent studies shed light on decentralization’s varying impact on ethnic conflict. After identifying conceptual inconsistencies throughout this research, this dissertation presents the Deconstructed Decentralization Model (DDM), a comprehensive framework for assessing decentralization. This framework disaggregates decentralization into three dimensions: political, fiscal, and administrative decentralization. Additionally, the DDM incorporates two subregional levels of decentralization: the subregional state level and the local, municipal level. Using the DDM and a time-series cross-national dataset spanning 52 countries, a statistical analysis of the relationship between deconstructed decentralization and ethnic conflict is presented. This analysis yields a nuanced set of findings regarding the relationships between regional and local levels of political, fiscal, and administrative decentralization and disaggregated ethnic conflict. Importantly, this study sheds light on the potential of local-level administrative decentralization for containing violent ethnic conflict for countries of varying democracy levels, a timely finding in light of the increasing global appeal of administrative decentralization. This study concludes with a qualitative analysis of deconstructed decentralization in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq, which reveals challenges to the authentic implementation of decentralization. These findings shed light on possible factors to consider in order to continue refining the conceptualization, measure, and impact of decentralization.