The efficacy of ethnic stacking : military defection during uprisings in Africa
Article [Accepted Manuscript]
Under embargo until: 2021-05-10
Is part ofJournal of global security studies ; vol. 4, no. 5, pp. 695-702.
Publisher(s)Oxford University Press
Does ethnic stacking in the armed forces help prevent military defection? Recent research, particularly in Africa and the Middle East, suggests so; by favoring in-groups, regimes can keep in-group soldiers loyal. In-group loyalty comes at the cost of antagonizing members of out-groups, but many regimes gladly run that risk. In this research note, we provide the first large-scale evidence on the impact of ethnic stacking on the incidence of military defection during uprisings from below, using data on fifty-seven popular uprisings in Africa since formal independence. We find clear evidence for the downside: ethnic stacking is associated with more frequent defection if out-group members are still dominant in the armed forces. We find more limited support for the hypothesized payoff. Ethnic stacking may reduce the risk of defection, but only in regimes without a recent history of coup attempts. Future research should therefore trace the solidification of ethnic stacking over time.