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Public Policy and Administration


Glenn Starks


Recent conflict research has relied on proxy variables of horizontal inequality to make causal assumptions, but these do not reveal the root of deprivation in aggrieved populations. However, it is important to continue to explore the greed-grievance dichotomy to explain the persistence of violent civil conflict. The purpose of this quantitative study was to expand this line of inquiry by investigating the relationship between indicators of vertical deprivation and reported civil conflict incidents to determine whether a significant correlation exists. Relative deprivation theory provided the framework for this study, which consisted of 10,779 survey responses regarding lived experience across 7 countries experiencing a total of 890 civil conflict incidents in 2016. Although tests of multiple linear regression indicated statistically significant relationships (p < .001) between two of the predictor variables and reported civil conflict incidents, the availability of electricity when connected to the main made the most substantial contribution to the model in both predictability and correlation. Therefore, the findings provide insight into the type and nature of deprivations, such as those associated with access to and availability of electricity, that have the greatest potential of becoming grievances susceptible to exploitation by conflict entrepreneurs. Implications for positive social change include using this analysis to promote increased conflict inquiry among public administration scholars and to inform a more substantive role of local government managers in identifying and remediating vertical grievances, thereby mitigating civil conflict.