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Ethnic Geography: Measurement and Evidence

Author

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  • Hodler, Roland
  • Valsecchi, Michele
  • Vesperoni, Alberto

Abstract

The effects of ethnic geography, i.e., the distribution of ethnic groups across space, on economic, political and social outcomes are not well understood. We develop a novel index of ethnic segregation that takes both ethnic and spatial distances between individuals into account. Importantly, we can decompose this index into indices of spatial dispersion, generalized ethnic fractionalization, and the alignment of spatial and ethnic distances. We use maps of traditional ethnic homelands, historical population density data, and language trees to compute these four indices for more than 150 countries. We apply these indices to study the relation between historical ethnic geography and current economic, political and social outcomes. Among other things, we document that countries with higher historical alignment, i.e., countries where ethnically diverse individuals lived far apart, have higher-quality government, higher incomes and higher levels of trust.

Suggested Citation

  • Hodler, Roland & Valsecchi, Michele & Vesperoni, Alberto, 2017. "Ethnic Geography: Measurement and Evidence," CEPR Discussion Papers 12378, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  • Handle: RePEc:cpr:ceprdp:12378
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Klaus Desmet & Joseph Gomes & Ignacio Ortuno-Ortín, 2016. "The Geography of Linguistic Diversity and the Provision of Public Goods," CESifo Working Paper Series 6238, CESifo Group Munich.
    2. 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.
    3. Michael D. König & Dominic Rohner & Mathias Thoenig & Fabrizio Zilibotti, 2017. "Networks in Conflict: Theory and Evidence From the Great War of Africa," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 85, pages 1093-1132, July.
    4. Pelle Ahlerup & Ola Olsson, 2012. "The roots of ethnic diversity," Journal of Economic Growth, Springer, vol. 17(2), pages 71-102, June.
    5. De Luca, Giacomo & Hodler, Roland & Raschky, Paul A. & Valsecchi, Michele, 2018. "Ethnic favoritism: An axiom of politics?," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 132(C), pages 115-129.
    6. Melissa Dell & Benjamin F. Jones & Benjamin A. Olken, 2012. "Temperature Shocks and Economic Growth: Evidence from the Last Half Century," American Economic Journal: Macroeconomics, American Economic Association, vol. 4(3), pages 66-95, July.
    7. Boris Gershman & Diego Rivera, 2016. "Subnational Diversity in Sub-Saharan Africa: Insights from a New Dataset," Working Papers 2016-07, American University, Department of Economics.
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    More about this item

    Keywords

    economic development; ethnic diversity; ethnic geography; fractionalization; quality of government; Segregation; trust.;

    JEL classification:

    • C43 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Econometric and Statistical Methods: Special Topics - - - Index Numbers and Aggregation
    • D63 - Microeconomics - - Welfare Economics - - - Equity, Justice, Inequality, and Other Normative Criteria and Measurement
    • O10 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - General
    • Z13 - Other Special Topics - - Cultural Economics - - - Economic Sociology; Economic Anthropology; Language; Social and Economic Stratification

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