Inequalities and conflict in Africa: An empirical investigation

Inequalities and poverty are important drivers of social exclusion, while conflict, social unrest and instability are its manifestation. The preponderance of conflicts in poor and unequal societies has long been documented in the literature. As Nagel succinctly argues, “political discontent and its consequences – protest, instability, violence, revolution – depend not only on the absolute level of economic well-being, but also on the distribution of wealth” (Nagel, 1974:453). According to the Kuznets’ inverted-U theory, a high level of income inequality radicalises the proletariat, enhances class polarisation and reduces the tolerance of the bourgeoisie for low-income group participation in political and decisionmaking processes (Muller, 1997).

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