The last Yugoslavs: Ethnic diversity and national identity Articles uri icon

publication date

  • April 2023

start page

  • 1

end page

  • 42


  • 101504


  • 88

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

  • 0014-4983

Electronic International Standard Serial Number (EISSN)

  • 1090-2457


  • Nation-building is often proposed as a device for integration in ethnically divided societies. The determinants of national sentiment, however, remain imperfectly understood. This paper analyses the role of interethnic contact in the process of nation formation within multiethnic Yugoslavia, just before its disintegration in 1991. Using a variety of data sources and empirical strategies, I find that interethnic contact stimulated the formation of the Yugoslav nation. I argue that ethnic intermarriage is the key mechanism through which ethnic diversity influenced the adoption of a shared Yugoslav identity. These results illustrate the powerful effect that interethnic contact can have in reducing ethnic division even in a tense ethnic environment on the verge of conflict, like that of Yugoslavia.


  • History
  • Politics
  • Sociology


  • yugoslavia; nationalism; ethnic diversity