When States implode: The correlates of Africa's civil wars, 1950-92

Errol A. Henderson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

22 Scopus citations


This article provides a systematic analysis of the extent to which political, economic, and cultural factors are associated with civil wars in sub-Saharan African states. Drawing on a theoretical argument that associates the likelihood of civil war with the tumult that arises from the simultaneous challenges of state building and nation building, several testable propositions are derived on the correlates of African civil wars. Results of logistic regression analyses indicate that previous colonial experience is a significant predictor to the likelihood of civil wars. It is also found that economic development reduces the probability of civil war while militarization increases it. Regime type played no significant role in African civil wars. Similarly, no support was found for the thesis that cultural factors are significantly associated with African civil war, which belies the notion that African civil wars are simply "ethnic conflicts." It appears that politico-economic factors-instead of cultural ones-give rise to civil wars in Africa.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)28-47
Number of pages20
JournalStudies In Comparative International Development
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2000

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Development
  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Political Science and International Relations


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