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Nationalism and government effectiveness


  • Ahlerup, Pelle
  • Hansson, Gustav


Nation-building is believed to have a positive influence on economic and political outcomes, especially in countries with ethnically fragmented populations. Yet nationalism, an indicator of successful nation-building, has been empirically linked to protectionism and intolerance, which suggests that dismal performance is a more likely outcome. This paper empirically identifies an inverted U-shaped relationship between nationalism and government effectiveness. The results suggest that the level of nationalism in the population is higher than optimal in most countries. It is further shown that nationalism may mitigate the negative effects of ethnic heterogeneity in former colonies. We find no clear linkages between nationalism and trade openness.

Suggested Citation

  • Ahlerup, Pelle & Hansson, Gustav, 2011. "Nationalism and government effectiveness," Journal of Comparative Economics, Elsevier, vol. 39(3), pages 431-451, September.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:jcecon:v:39:y:2011:i:3:p:431-451

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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Mario Coccia & Igor Benati, 2017. "What is the relation between public manager compensation and government effectiveness? An explorative analysis with public management implications," quaderni IRCrES 201701, Research Institute on Sustainable Economic Growth - Moncalieri (TO) ITALY - former Institute for Economic Research on Firms and Growth - Moncalieri (TO) ITALY.
    2. repec:rfa:journl:v:5:y:2017:i:12:p:1-9 is not listed on IDEAS
    3. Hamilton, Alexander & Hudson, J R, 2014. "Bribery and Identification:Evidence from Sudan," Department of Economics Working Papers 39841, University of Bath, Department of Economics.
    4. Ahlerup, Pelle & Baskaran, Thushyanthan & Bigsten, Arne, 2016. "Government Impartiality and Sustained Growth in Sub-Saharan Africa," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 83(C), pages 54-69.
    5. Schaeffer, Merlin, 2013. "Ethnic diversity, public goods provision and social cohesion: Lessons from an inconclusive literature," Discussion Papers, Research Unit: Migration, Integration, Transnationalization SP VI 2013-103, Social Science Research Center Berlin (WZB).
    6. Alberto Alesina & Bryony Reich & Alessandro Riboni, 2017. "Nation-Building, Nationalism and Wars," NBER Working Papers 23435, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    7. Alon, Anna & Dwyer, Peggy D., 2014. "Early Adoption of IFRS as a Strategic Response to Transnational and Local Influences," The International Journal of Accounting, Elsevier, vol. 49(3), pages 348-370.

    More about this item


    Ethnic diversity Government effectiveness Nation-building Nationalism Protectionism;

    JEL classification:

    • F52 - International Economics - - International Relations, National Security, and International Political Economy - - - National Security; Economic Nationalism
    • N40 - Economic History - - Government, War, Law, International Relations, and Regulation - - - General, International, or Comparative


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