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Collective Action in Diverse Sierra Leone Communities

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  • Rachel Glennerster
  • Edward Miguel
  • Alexander Rothenberg

Abstract

Scholars have pointed to ethnic and other social divisions as a leading cause of economic underdevelopment, due in part to their adverse effects on public good provision and collective action. We investigate this issue in post-war Sierra Leone, one of the world’s poorest countries. To address concerns over endogenous local ethnic composition, and in an advance over most existing work, we use an instrumental variables strategy relying on historical ethnic diversity data from the 1963 Sierra Leone Census. We find that local ethnic diversity is not associated with worse local public goods provision across a variety of outcomes, regression specifications, and diversity measures, and that these “zeros” are precisely estimated. We investigate the role that two leading mechanisms proposed in the literature – enforcement of collective action by strong local government authorities, and the existence of a common national identity and language – in generating these perhaps surprising findings.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 16196.

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Date of creation: Jul 2010
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Publication status: published as “Collective Action in Diverse Sierra Leone Communities” (co - authors Rachel Glennerster, Alexander Rothenberg), Economic Journal , 2013, 123(568), 285 - 316.
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:16196

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  1. Alesina, Alberto & Devleeschauwer, Arnaud & Wacziarg, Romain & Kurlat, Sergio & Easterly, William, 2003. "Fractionalization," Scholarly Articles 4553003, Harvard University Department of Economics.
  2. Alesina, Alberto & Baqir, Reza & Easterly, William, 1999. "Public goods and ethnic divisions," Policy Research Working Paper Series 2108, The World Bank.
  3. Bellows, John & Miguel, Edward, 2009. "War and local collective action in Sierra Leone," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, Elsevier, vol. 93(11-12), pages 1144-1157, December.
  4. Vigdor, Jacob L., 2002. "Interpreting ethnic fragmentation effects," Economics Letters, Elsevier, Elsevier, vol. 75(2), pages 271-276, April.
  5. Jeffrey R Kling & Jeffrey B Liebman & Lawrence F Katz, 2007. "Experimental Analysis of Neighborhood Effects," Econometrica, Econometric Society, Econometric Society, vol. 75(1), pages 83-119, 01.
  6. Fearon, James D, 2003. " Ethnic and Cultural Diversity by Country," Journal of Economic Growth, Springer, Springer, vol. 8(2), pages 195-222, June.
  7. Simon Gachter & Ernst Fehr, 2000. "Cooperation and Punishment in Public Goods Experiments," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, American Economic Association, vol. 90(4), pages 980-994, September.
  8. Easterly, W & Levine, R, 1996. "Africa's Growth Tragedy : Policies and Ethnic Divisions," Papers, Harvard - Institute for International Development 536, Harvard - Institute for International Development.
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Cited by:
  1. Algan, Yann & Hémet, Camille & Laitin, David D., 2011. "Diversity and Public Goods: A Natural Experiment with Exogenous Residential Allocation," IZA Discussion Papers 6053, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  2. James Fenske, 2012. "Ecology, trade and states in pre-colonial Africa," CSAE Working Paper Series 2012-18, Centre for the Study of African Economies, University of Oxford.
  3. Katherine Casey & Rachel Glennerster & Edward Miguel, 2012. "Healing the Wounds: Learning from Sierra Leone's Post-war Institutional Reforms," NBER Working Papers 18368, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  4. Stelios Michalopoulos & Elias Papaioannou, 2011. "Divide and Rule or the Rule of the Divided? Evidence from Africa," Economics Working Papers, Institute for Advanced Study, School of Social Science 0099, Institute for Advanced Study, School of Social Science.
  5. Mizuno, Nobuhiro, 2013. "Political Structure as a Legacy of Indirect Colonial Rule: Bargaining between National Governments and Rural Elites in Africa," MPRA Paper 48771, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  6. Nathan Nunn & Leonard Wantchekon, 2011. "The Slave Trade and the Origins of Mistrust in Africa," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, American Economic Association, vol. 101(7), pages 3221-52, December.
  7. Fenske, James, 2012. "African polygamy: Past and present," MPRA Paper 41618, University Library of Munich, Germany.

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