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Colonial legacy, state-building and the salience of ethnicity in Sub-Saharan Africa

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  • Merima Ali
  • Odd-Helge Fjeldstad
  • Boqian Jiang
  • Abdulaziz B. Shifa

Abstract

Ethnicity has received increased attention in studies of Africa's economic and institutional development. We present evidence on the long-term effects of Britain's "divide-and-rule" colonial strategy that deliberately fostered ethnic rivalries to weaken and control locals. Using micro data from Sub-Saharan Africa, we found that citizens of Anglophone (as compared to Francophone) countries are more likely to: (1) attach greater importance to ethnic identity (vis-a-vis national identity); (2) have weaker norms against tax evasion; and (3) face extortion by non state actors. We address endogeneity concerns using IV regression and regression-discontinuity. These results suggest that Britain's divide-and-rule strategy may have undermined state-building.

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  • Merima Ali & Odd-Helge Fjeldstad & Boqian Jiang & Abdulaziz B. Shifa, 2015. "Colonial legacy, state-building and the salience of ethnicity in Sub-Saharan Africa," CMI Working Papers 16, CMI (Chr. Michelsen Institute), Bergen, Norway.
  • Handle: RePEc:chm:wpaper:wp2015-16
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    6. Stelios Michalopoulos & Elias Papaioannou, 2020. "Historical Legacies and African Development," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 58(1), pages 53-128, March.
    7. Bartoš, Vojtěch & Levely, Ian, 2021. "Sanctioning and trustworthiness across ethnic groups: Experimental evidence from Afghanistan," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 194(C).
    8. Marina Nistotskaya & Michelle D'Arcy, 2021. "No taxation without property rights: Formalization of property rights on land and tax revenues from individuals in sub-Saharan Africa," WIDER Working Paper Series wp-2021-175, World Institute for Development Economic Research (UNU-WIDER).
    9. Flückiger, Matthias & Ludwig, Markus, 2020. "Malaria suitability, urbanization and subnational development in sub-Saharan Africa," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 120(C).
    10. Ali, Merima & Fjeldstad, Odd‐Helge & Shifa, Abdulaziz B., 2020. "European colonization and the corruption of local elites: The case of chiefs in Africa," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 179(C), pages 80-100.
    11. Roberti, Paolo, 2019. "State capacity and repression: A model of colonial rule," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 113(C), pages 247-264.
    12. Levely, Ian & Bartos, Vojtech, 2018. "Sanctioning and Trustworthiness Across Ethnic Groups," Rationality and Competition Discussion Paper Series 107, CRC TRR 190 Rationality and Competition.
    13. Okoye, Dozie, 2021. "Things fall apart? Missions, institutions, and interpersonal trust," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 148(C).
    14. von Haldenwang, Christian, 2020. "Digitalising the fiscal contract: An interdisciplinary framework for empirical inquiry," IDOS Discussion Papers 20/2020, German Institute of Development and Sustainability (IDOS).
    15. Kukic, Leonard, 2019. "The last Yugoslavs: ethnic diversity, national identity and civil war," LSE Research Online Documents on Economics 102323, London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library.
    16. McNamee, Lachlan, 2019. "Indirect colonial rule and the salience of ethnicity," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 122(C), pages 142-156.
    17. Fiedler, Charlotte & Rohles, Christopher, 2021. "Social cohesion after armed conflict: A literature review," IDOS Discussion Papers 7/2021, German Institute of Development and Sustainability (IDOS).
    18. Yonatan Dinku & Dereje Regasa, 2021. "Ethnic Diversity and Local Economies," South African Journal of Economics, Economic Society of South Africa, vol. 89(3), pages 348-367, September.

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    Keywords

    Colonial legacy; development; ethnicity; state capacity; Sub-Saharan Africa; tax; tax evasion;
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