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Splitting the Difference? The Politics of District Creation in Indonesia

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What explains the patterns of local government proliferation in Indonesia? I argue that ethnic heterogeneity, paired with the political ability to lobby for boundary changes, explains territorial reform. Using data on Indonesian district splits from 2001 to 2012 and information at the district and sub-district levels, I provide evidence in support of these propositions. To further trace the logic of district splitting, the paper draws on census data, as well as information on local violent conflict, to show that newly created districts have higher levels of ethnic homogeneity and experience less political violence. These findings provide new and important insights to existing debates on optimal federalism and the emerging literature on the politics of administrative unit proliferation.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: January 1, 2016

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  • Comparative Politics is an international journal that publishes scholarly articles devoted to the comparative analysis of political institutions and behavior. It was founded in 1968 to further the development of comparative political theory and the application of comparative theoretical analysis to the empirical investigation of political issues. Comparative Politics communicates new ideas and research findings to social scientists, scholars, and students, and is valued by experts in research organizations, foundations, and consulates throughout the world.
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