During our research on different risk factors, we came across some references by different scholars to the way that a population’s ethnic composition can influence the likelihood of ethnic conflict and genocide. For example, Jane Springer explains that if one group is numerically dominant, it becomes more likely that minorities will be neglected and persecuted. Similarly, Chyanda Querido highlights that the likelihood of mass killing increases as ethnic diversity decreases, especially if one group is particularly dominant. This seems fairly logical, but the challenge lies in measuring ethnic diversity and deciding at what point it becomes dangerously low. Unfortunately, the sources named above don’t list quantitative thresholds but this is very important. After all, very few countries today are ethnically, racially, or religiously homogeneous so for population composition to be a useful risk factor it may be necessary to establish “dangerous ratios” at which point the likelihood of genocide is highest. For example, is a country in which Group A makes up 90% of the population and Group B only 10% more likely to experience genocide than a country in which Group A comprises 60% and Group B is 40%? The question becomes even more difficult when complex societies with many groups are considered.
This is why we’re reaching out to you, our supporters and your networks, to help in this work. Do you know of any research that has been done on this topic or anyone who might know more about it?
If you have any information or recommendations, please send them to the attention of the Research Team.