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Ethnic Inequality

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  • Alesina, Alberto F
  • Michalopoulos, Stelios
  • Papaioannou, Elias

Abstract

This study explores the consequences and origins of contemporary differences in well-being across ethnic groups within countries. We construct measures of ethnic inequality combining ethnolinguistic maps on the spatial distribution of groups with satellite images of light density at night. Ethnic inequality is strongly inversely related to per capita income; this pattern holds when we condition on the overall degree of spatial inequality -that is also associated with underdevelopment. We further show that differences in geographic endowments across ethnic homelands explain a sizable portion of contemporary ethnic inequality. This deeply rooted inequality in geographic attributes across ethnic regions is also negatively related to comparative development. We also show that ethnic inequality goes in tandem with lower levels development within countries. Using micro-level data from the Afrobarometer surveys we show that individuals from the same ethnic group are worse off when they reside in districts with a high degree of ethnic inequality.

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Paper provided by C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers in its series CEPR Discussion Papers with number 9225.

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Date of creation: Nov 2012
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Handle: RePEc:cpr:ceprdp:9225

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Keywords: development; diversity; ethnicity; geography; inequality;

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References

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  1. J. Vernon Henderson & Adam Storeygard & David N. Weil, 2009. "Measuring Economic Growth from Outer Space," NBER Working Papers 15199, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. Ashwini Deshpande, 2000. "Does Caste Still Define Disparity? A Look at Inequality in Kerala, India," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 90(2), pages 322-325, May.
  3. Stelios Michalopoulos & Elias Papaioannou, 2011. "Divide and Rule or the Rule of the Divided? Evidence from Africa," NBER Working Papers 17184, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  4. Stelios Michalopoulos, 2012. "The Origins of Ethnolinguistic Diversity," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 102(4), pages 1508-39, June.
  5. Louis Putterman & Valerie Bockstette, 2000. "States and Markets:the Advantage of an Early Start," Working Papers 2000-12, Brown University, Department of Economics.
  6. Easterly, William, 2007. "Inequality does cause underdevelopment: Insights from a new instrument," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 84(2), pages 755-776, November.
  7. Raphaёl Franck & Ilia Rainer, 2012. "Does the Leader’s Ethnicity Matter? Ethnic Favoritism, Education and Health in Sub-Saharan Africa," Working Papers 2012-06, Department of Economics, Bar-Ilan University.
  8. Desmet, Klaus & Ortuño-Ortín, Ignacio & Wacziarg, Romain, 2012. "The political economy of linguistic cleavages," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 97(2), pages 322-338.
  9. Stelios Michalopoulos & Elias Papaioannou, 2011. "The Long-Run Effects of the Scramble for Africa," Discussion Papers Series, Department of Economics, Tufts University 0762, Department of Economics, Tufts University.
  10. Stelios Michalopoulos & Elias Papaioannou, 2012. "National Institutions and Subnational Development in Africa," NBER Working Papers 18275, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  11. Nicola Gennaioli & Ilia Rainer, 2007. "The modern impact of precolonial centralization in Africa," Journal of Economic Growth, Springer, vol. 12(3), pages 185-234, September.
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Cited by:
  1. Pinkovskiy, Maxim L. & Sala-i-Martin, Xavier X., 2014. "Lights, camera,...income! Estimating poverty using national accounts, survey means, and lights," Staff Reports 669, Federal Reserve Bank of New York.
  2. James Fenske, 2012. "African polygamy: Past and present," CSAE Working Paper Series 2012-20, Centre for the Study of African Economies, University of Oxford.
  3. Alesina, Alberto & Harnoss, Johann & Rapoport, Hillel, 2013. "Birthplace Diversity and Economic Prosperity," IZA Discussion Papers 7568, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  4. Nilufar Matin & Mohammad Shahidul Islam & Musingo T. E. Mbuvi & Bernard Owuor Odit & Paul Othim Ongugo & Mohammad Abu Syed, 2014. "Group Inequality and Environmental Sustainability: Insights from Bangladesh and Kenyan Forest Commons," Sustainability, MDPI, Open Access Journal, vol. 6(3), pages 1462-1488, March.
  5. Robin Burgess & Remi Jedwab & Edward Miguel & Ameet Morjaria & Gerard Padró i Miquel, 2013. "The Value of Democracy: Evidence from Road Building in Kenya," NBER Working Papers 19398, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  6. Casey, Gregory P. & Owen, Ann L., 2014. "Inequality and Fractionalization," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 56(C), pages 32-50.
  7. Massimo Morelli & Dominic Rohner, 2013. "Resource Concentration and Civil Wars," Cahiers de Recherches Economiques du Département d'Econométrie et d'Economie politique (DEEP) 13.08, Université de Lausanne, Faculté des HEC, DEEP.

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