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How to make a tragedy: on the alleged effect of ethnicity on growth

  • Jean-Louis Arcand

    (CERDI-CNRS, Université d'Auvergne, and CRDE, Université de Montréal, Canada)

  • Patrick Guillaumont

    (CERDI-CNRS, Université d'Auvergne, France)

  • Sylviane Guillaumont Jeanneney

    (CERDI-CNRS, Université d'Auvergne, France)

This paper questions the line of reasoning followed by several authors, notably Easterly and Levine according to which ethno-linguistic fragmentation, because it leads to poor policies, is the main factor explaining the 'tragedy' of low African growth. A first set of criticism concerns the model itself and stresses that current empirical work is unable to convincingly identify the channels through which ethnic fragmentation affects growth: (i) polarization may be more relevant than fragmentation, (ii) the various tests of the effect of ethnicity on the quality of policy are far from being conclusive. A second set of remarks concerns the relevance of these studies to Africa: the African sub-sample is often quite limited, and the relationship is unstable (according to Chow tests). It actually appears that ethnicity has a more important effect on growth in Africa than elsewhere. This still needs to be explained and is not as such an explanation for lower African growth. Copyright © 2000 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

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Article provided by John Wiley & Sons, Ltd. in its journal Journal of International Development.

Volume (Year): 12 (2000)
Issue (Month): 7 ()
Pages: 925-938

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Handle: RePEc:wly:jintdv:v:12:y:2000:i:7:p:925-938
Contact details of provider: Web page: http://www3.interscience.wiley.com/journal/5102/home

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  1. Jean-Louis ARCAND & Patrick GUILLAUMONT & Sylviane GUILLAUMONT JEANNENEY, 1999. "Ethnicity, Communication and Growth," Working Papers 199901, CERDI.
  2. Temple, Jonathan, 1998. "Initial Conditions, Social Capital and Growth in Africa," Journal of African Economies, Centre for the Study of African Economies (CSAE), vol. 7(3), pages 309-47, October.
  3. Mauro, Paolo, 1995. "Corruption and Growth," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 110(3), pages 681-712, August.
  4. Rafael La Porta & Florencio Lopez-de-Silanes & Andrei Shleifer & Robert Vishny, 1998. "The Quality of Goverment," NBER Working Papers 6727, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  5. Easterly, William & Levine, Ross, 1997. "Africa's Growth Tragedy: Policies and Ethnic Divisions," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 112(4), pages 1203-50, November.
  6. Sachs, Jeffrey D & Warner, Andrew M, 1997. "Sources of Slow Growth in African Economies," Journal of African Economies, Centre for the Study of African Economies (CSAE), vol. 6(3), pages 335-76, October.
  7. Collier, Paul & Hoeffler, Anke, 1998. "On Economic Causes of Civil War," Oxford Economic Papers, Oxford University Press, vol. 50(4), pages 563-73, October.
  8. Dani Rodrik, 1998. "Trade Policy and Economic Performance in Sub-Saharan Africa," NBER Working Papers 6562, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  9. Patrick GUILLAUMONT & Sylviane GUILLAUMONT JEANNENEY & Jean-François BRUN, 1998. "How Instability Lowers African Growth," Working Papers 199806, CERDI.
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