Recent scholarship has highlighted the role of severe ethnic inequalities, or 'horizontal inequalities', in provoking a range of political disturbances, including violent conflicts and civil wars. However, some countries with severe socio-economic or developmental inequalities between different ethnic groups or regions have nonetheless remained relatively peaceful and stable. This obviously raises the question: under what circumstances are horizontal inequalities more likely to provoke violent group action? In order to understand the linkages between horizontal inequalities and the emergence of violent ethno-regional mobilisation, we need to analyse not only countries where violent conflicts have emerged, but also countries which have been able to manage their ethno-regional tensions and inequalities relatively peacefully. The current paper aims to do so for the Ghanaian case. From the perspective of horizontal inequality/conflict, Ghana is an interesting case not only because so far the prevailing socio-economic inequalities between the North and South have not resulted in a serious violent conflict at the national level. But also because the most serious political tensions have occurred between the elites of ethnic groups (the Ewe and Ashanti/Akan), whose socio-economic situations are not markedly different from one another.
Crise Working Paper 25, 28 pp.