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Ethnic Favoritism: An Axiom of Politics?

Listed author(s):
  • De Luca, Giacomo
  • Hodler, Roland
  • Raschky, Paul A.
  • Valsecchi, Michele

We investigate the prevalence and determinants of ethnic favoritism, i.e., preferential public policies targeted at the political leader's ethnic group. We are the first to study ethnic favoritism in a global sample and to use a broad measure - nighttime light intensity -- that allows capturing the distributive effects of a wide range of policies. We construct two panel datasets with several thousand ethnographic regions from around 140 multi-ethnic countries and annual observations from 1992 to 2013. We find robust evidence for ethnic favoritism: ethnographic regions enjoy 7%-10% more intense nighttime light and 2%-3% higher GDP when being the current political leader's ethnic homeland. We further document that ethnic favoritism is a global phenomenon prevalent both within and outside of Africa; that economic development and better political institutions have at best weak effects on ethnic favoritism; that ethnic favoritism is partly motivated by electoral concerns and extends to linguistically close groups; and that ethnic favoritism does not contribute to sustainable development.

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Paper provided by C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers in its series CEPR Discussion Papers with number 11351.

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Date of creation: Jun 2016
Handle: RePEc:cpr:ceprdp:11351
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  1. Souleymane Soumahoro, 2015. "Leadership favouritism in Africa," Applied Economics Letters, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 22(15), pages 1236-1239, October.
  2. Anders Aslund, 2015. "Ukraine: What Went Wrong and How to Fix It," Peterson Institute Press: All Books, Peterson Institute for International Economics, number 7014, November.
  3. Andrew Dickens, 2017. "Ethnolinguistic Favoritism in African Politics," Working Papers 1702, Brock University, Department of Economics.
  4. William Easterly & Ross Levine, 1997. "Africa's Growth Tragedy: Policies and Ethnic Divisions," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 112(4), pages 1203-1250.
  5. Robin Burgess & Remi Jedwab & Edward Miguel & Ameet Morjaria & Gerard Padró i Miquel, 2015. "The Value of Democracy: Evidence from Road Building in Kenya," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 105(6), pages 1817-1851, June.
  6. Hodler, Roland & Raschky, Paul A., 2014. "Economic shocks and civil conflict at the regional level," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 124(3), pages 530-533.
  7. Dreher, Axel & Lamla, Michael J. & Lein, Sarah M. & Somogyi, Frank, 2009. "The impact of political leaders' profession and education on reforms," Journal of Comparative Economics, Elsevier, vol. 37(1), pages 169-193, March.
  8. Joshua D. Angrist & Jörn-Steffen Pischke, 2009. "Mostly Harmless Econometrics: An Empiricist's Companion," Economics Books, Princeton University Press, edition 1, number 8769.
  9. Benjamin F. Jones & Benjamin A. Olken, 2005. "Do Leaders Matter? National Leadership and Growth Since World War II," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 120(3), pages 835-864.
  10. Roland Hodler & Paul A. Raschky, 2014. "Regional Favoritism," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 129(2), pages 995-1033.
  11. Hannes Mueller & Agustin Tapsoba, 2016. "Access to Power, Political Institutions and Ethnic Favoritism," Working Papers 901, Barcelona Graduate School of Economics.
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