Munich Personal RePEc Archive

Two ethnic security dilemmas and their economic origin

Khemraj, Tarron (2019): Two ethnic security dilemmas and their economic origin.

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The paper outlines two ethnic security dilemmas (ESDs) that permeate Guyanese economic and political life. At the heart of the ESDs are strategic uncertainty of voters and the joy of destruction (envy) of political leaders. Most voters vote pro-ethnically and leaders of one political party find strategies to undermine the other. The prize is the control of government and associated economic opportunities. This view is supported by a survey of Guyanese historical political and economic contests. The dilemmas occur because the interrelated political strategies of the two ethnic-based parties produce a sub-optimal economic outcome for everyone, although a superior economic outcome (equilibrium) exists but cannot be achieved because the dominant parties find it impossible to coordinate and cooperate within the confines of the present constitutional and electoral frameworks. High strategic uncertainty and low inter-group trust fuel the inherent dilemmas among voters and political leaders. Ideas or metaphors from applied game theory are used to define the ESDs more precisely and suggest possible solutions.

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