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The Impact of Ethnic Diversity in Bureaucracies: Evidence from the Nigerian Civil Service


  • Imran Rasul
  • Daniel Rogger


We document the correlation between the workplace diversity in bureaucratic organizations and public service delivery. We do so in the context of Nigeria, where ethnicity is a salient form of self-identity. We thus expand the empirical management literature highlighting beneficial effects of workplace diversity, that has focused on private sector firms operating in high-income settings. Our analysis combines two data sources: (i) a survey to over 4,000 bureaucrats eliciting their ethnic identities; (ii) independent engineering assessments of completion rates for 4,700 public sector projects. The ethnic diversity of bureaucracies matters positively: a one standard deviation increase in the ethnic diversity of bureaucrats corresponds to 9 percent higher completion rates. In line with the management literature from private sector firms in high-income countries, this evidence highlights a potentially positive side of ethnic diversity in public sector organizations, in the context of Sub-Saharan Africa.

Suggested Citation

  • Imran Rasul & Daniel Rogger, 2015. "The Impact of Ethnic Diversity in Bureaucracies: Evidence from the Nigerian Civil Service," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 105(5), pages 457-461, May.
  • Handle: RePEc:aea:aecrev:v:105:y:2015:i:5:p:457-61
    Note: DOI: 10.1257/aer.p20151003

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    Cited by:

    1. Catherine Buffington & Lucia Foster & Ron Jarmin & Scott Ohlmacher, 2016. "The Management and Organizational Practices Survey (MOPS): An Overview," Working Papers 16-28, Center for Economic Studies, U.S. Census Bureau.
    2. Arun Advani & Bryony Reich, 2015. "Melting pot or salad bowl: the formation of heterogeneous communities," IFS Working Papers W15/30, Institute for Fiscal Studies.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • D73 - Microeconomics - - Analysis of Collective Decision-Making - - - Bureaucracy; Administrative Processes in Public Organizations; Corruption
    • H83 - Public Economics - - Miscellaneous Issues - - - Public Administration
    • J15 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Economics of Minorities, Races, Indigenous Peoples, and Immigrants; Non-labor Discrimination
    • O15 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Economic Development: Human Resources; Human Development; Income Distribution; Migration
    • O17 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Formal and Informal Sectors; Shadow Economy; Institutional Arrangements


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