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Trickle-Down Ethnic Politics: Drunk and Absent in the Kenya Police Force (1957-1970)

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  • Oliver Vanden Eynde
  • Patrick M. Kuhn
  • Alexander Moradi

Abstract

How does ethnic politics affect the state's ability to provide policing services? Using a panel of administrative personnel data on the full careers of 6,784 police officers, we show how the rise of ethnic politics around Kenya's independence influenced policemen's behavior. We find a significant deterioration in discipline after Kenya's first multiparty election for those police officers of ethnic groups associated with the ruling party. These effects are driven by a behavioral change among these policemen. We find no evidence of favoritism within the police. Instead, our results are consistent with co-ethnic officers experiencing an emboldenment effect. Our findings highlight that the state's security apparatus, at its most granular level, is not insulated from ethnic politics.

Suggested Citation

  • Oliver Vanden Eynde & Patrick M. Kuhn & Alexander Moradi, 2018. "Trickle-Down Ethnic Politics: Drunk and Absent in the Kenya Police Force (1957-1970)," American Economic Journal: Economic Policy, American Economic Association, vol. 10(3), pages 388-417, August.
  • Handle: RePEc:aea:aejpol:v:10:y:2018:i:3:p:388-417
    Note: DOI: 10.1257/pol.20160384
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    JEL classification:

    • D72 - Microeconomics - - Analysis of Collective Decision-Making - - - Political Processes: Rent-seeking, Lobbying, Elections, Legislatures, and Voting Behavior
    • J15 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Economics of Minorities, Races, Indigenous Peoples, and Immigrants; Non-labor Discrimination
    • K42 - Law and Economics - - Legal Procedure, the Legal System, and Illegal Behavior - - - Illegal Behavior and the Enforcement of Law
    • 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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