This article attempts to show that future players and future stakes—two factors generally ignored by political scientists— strongly influence government decisions to cooperate or fight at least against ethnic minorities seeking self-determination. Dataonall separatistmovementsbetween1956and2002reveals that governmentsare significantly less likely toaccommodate one challenge if the number of ethnic groups in a country and the combined value of the land that may come under dispute in the future is high. Governments that refused to accommodate one challenger were also significantly less likely to face a second or third challenge down the road. This provides some of the first systematic evidence that governments invest in reputation building a least in the domain of domestic ethnic relations.
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