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The Political Economy of Ethnolinguistic Cleavages

Author

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  • Desmet, Klaus
  • Ortuño-Ortín, Ignacio
  • Wacziarg, Romain

Abstract

This paper proposes a new method to measure ethnolinguistic diversity and offers new results linking such diversity with a range of political economy outcomes -- civil conflict, redistribution, economic growth and the provision of public goods. We use linguistic trees, describing the genealogical relationship between the entire set of 6,912 world languages, to compute measures of fractionalization and polarization at different levels of linguistic aggregation. By doing so, we let the data inform us on which linguistic cleavages are most relevant, rather than making ad hoc choices of linguistic classifications. We find drastically different effects of linguistic diversity at different levels of aggregation: deep cleavages, originating thousands of years ago, lead to measures of diversity that are better predictors of civil conflict and redistribution than those that account for more recent and superficial divisions. The opposite pattern holds when it comes to the impact of linguistic diversity on growth and public goods provision, where finer distinctions between languages matter.

Suggested Citation

  • Desmet, Klaus & Ortuño-Ortín, Ignacio & Wacziarg, Romain, 2009. "The Political Economy of Ethnolinguistic Cleavages," CEPR Discussion Papers 7478, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  • Handle: RePEc:cpr:ceprdp:7478
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    Cited by:

    1. Javier Gardeazabal, 2011. "Linguistic polarization and conflict in the Basque Country," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 149(3), pages 405-425, December.
    2. Victor GINSBURGH & Shlomo WEBER, 2016. "Linguistic distances and ethnolinguistic fractionalization and disenfranchisement indices," CORE Discussion Papers RP 2855, Université catholique de Louvain, Center for Operations Research and Econometrics (CORE).
    3. Alberto Alesina & Johann Harnoss & Hillel Rapoport, 2016. "Birthplace diversity and economic prosperity," Journal of Economic Growth, Springer, vol. 21(2), pages 101-138, June.
    4. Joan Costa-Font & Frank Cowell, 2015. "Social Identity And Redistributive Preferences: A Survey," Journal of Economic Surveys, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 29(2), pages 357-374, April.
    5. Gerard Padro i Miquel & Nancy Qian & Yang Yao, 2012. "Social Fragmentation, Public Goods and Elections: Evidence from China," NBER Working Papers 18633, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    6. Gerring, John & Thacker, Strom C. & Lu, Yuan & Huang, Wei, 2015. "Does Diversity Impair Human Development? A Multi-Level Test of the Diversity Debit Hypothesis," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 66(C), pages 166-188.
    7. Ager, Philipp & Brückner, Markus, 2013. "Cultural diversity and economic growth: Evidence from the US during the age of mass migration," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 64(C), pages 76-97.
    8. Köppl-Turyna, Monika, 2014. "Campaign finance regulations and policy convergence: The role of interest groups and valence," European Journal of Political Economy, Elsevier, vol. 33(C), pages 1-19.
    9. Melitz, Jacques & Toubal, Farid, 2014. "Native language, spoken language, translation and trade," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 93(2), pages 351-363.
    10. Joan Esteban & Laura Mayoral & Debraj Ray, 2012. "Ethnicity and Conflict: An Empirical Study," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 102(4), pages 1310-1342, June.
    11. Jaime de Melo & Mariem Nouar & Jean-Marc Solleder, 2017. "Integration along the Abuja road map: A progress report," WIDER Working Paper Series 103, World Institute for Development Economic Research (UNU-WIDER).
    12. Hanson, Gordon & Xiang, Chong, 2011. "Trade barriers and trade flows with product heterogeneity: An application to US motion picture exports," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 83(1), pages 14-26, January.
    13. Kanybek Nur-tegin, 2014. "Entrenched Autocracy or New Democracy: Which Is Better for Business?," Kyklos, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 67(3), pages 398-419, August.
    14. Alberto Bisin & Thierry Verdier, 2010. "The Economics of Cultural Transmission and Socialization," NBER Working Papers 16512, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    15. Vitola, Alise & Grigoriadis, Theocharis, 2018. "Diversity & empire: Baltic Germans & comparative development," Discussion Papers 2018/6, Free University Berlin, School of Business & Economics.
    16. Feldmann, Horst, 2012. "Ethnic fractionalization and unemployment," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 117(1), pages 192-195.
    17. Satya Chakravarty & Bhargav Maharaj, 2012. "Ethnic polarization orderings and indices," Journal of Economic Interaction and Coordination, Springer;Society for Economic Science with Heterogeneous Interacting Agents, vol. 7(1), pages 99-123, May.
    18. Akramov, Kamiljon T. & Yu, Bingxin & Fan, Shenggen, 2010. "Mountains, global food prices, and food security in the developing world," IFPRI discussion papers 989, International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI).
    19. Matteo Cervellati & Sunde, Uwe & Simona Valmori, 2011. "Disease Environment and Civil Conflicts," Economics Working Paper Series 1113, University of St. Gallen, School of Economics and Political Science.
    20. Alexander Fink, 2011. "Under what conditions may social contracts arise? Evidence from the Hanseatic League," Constitutional Political Economy, Springer, vol. 22(2), pages 173-190, June.
    21. Nathan, Max, 2011. "The economics of super-diversity: findings from British cities, 2001-2006," LSE Research Online Documents on Economics 33578, London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library.
    22. Andrew L. Dabalen & Ephraim Kebede & Saumik Paul, 2012. "Causes of Civil War: Micro Level Evidence from Côte d’Ivoire," HiCN Working Papers 118, Households in Conflict Network.
    23. Primož Pevcin, 2012. "Analysis of Cross-Country Differences in the Non-Profit Sector Size," Prague Economic Papers, University of Economics, Prague, vol. 2012(2), pages 186-204.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    civil conflict; economic growth; ethnolinguistic cleavages; ethnolinguistic diversity; language trees; public goods; redistribution;

    JEL classification:

    • H1 - Public Economics - - Structure and Scope of Government
    • N4 - Economic History - - Government, War, Law, International Relations, and Regulation
    • O4 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Growth and Aggregate Productivity
    • O5 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economywide Country Studies

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