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Ethnic Solidarity and the Individual Determinants of Ethnic Identification

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  • Thomas Bossuroy

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    (SALDRU, School of Economics, University of Cape Town)

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    Abstract

    This paper examines the individual determinants of ethnic identification using large sample surveys (about 30,000 respondents) representative of seven capitals of West-African countries. A small model that relates ethnic identification to an investment in ethnic capital suggests that individuals initially deprived of social or human capital resort to ethnicity to get socially inserted, and do even more so if their ethnic group itself is well inserted. Empirical results are consistent with this simple theory. First, education lowers ethnic salience. Second, ethnic identification is higher for uneducated unemployed or informal workers who seek a new or better job, and is further raised by the share of the individual’s ethnic group integrated on the job market. Third, ethnic identification is higher among migrants, and raised by the share of the migrant’s ethnic group that is employed. Group solidarity makes ethnic identity more salient for individuals deprived of other means for upward mobility.

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    Bibliographic Info

    Paper provided by Southern Africa Labour and Development Research Unit, University of Cape Town in its series SALDRU Working Papers with number 69.

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    Length: 25 pages
    Date of creation: Nov 2011
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    Handle: RePEc:ldr:wpaper:69

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    Keywords: Ethnicity; Identity; Social capital; Networks; Africa.;

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    1. Bossuroy, Thomas & Cogneau, Denis, 2008. "Social Mobility and Colonial Legacy in Five African Countries," Economics Papers from University Paris Dauphine 123456789/4314, Paris Dauphine University.
    2. Greif, Avner, 1993. "Contract Enforceability and Economic Institutions in Early Trade: the Maghribi Traders' Coalition," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 83(3), pages 525-48, June.
    3. Dean S. Karlan, 2005. "Social Connections and Group Banking," Working Papers 913, Economic Growth Center, Yale University.
    4. Bates, Robert H., . "Ethnicity and Modernization in Contemporary Africa," Working Papers 16, California Institute of Technology, Division of the Humanities and Social Sciences.
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