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Ethnicity and Networks in African Trade


  • Marcel Fafchamps


This paper investigates the role of ethnicity and networks in domestic agricultural trade in Africa. Using a theoretical model of self-disciplining markets, we begin by demonstrating that statistical discrimination and networks can generate similar patterns of ethnic concentration. We then test these ideas using original survey data collected in Benin, Malawi and Madagascar. We find no evidence that members of a particular sex or ethnic group are more easily trusted by suppliers and trust clients more easily. In contrast, network effects have a strong and systematic effect in tsut and information sharing. Women accumulate working capital slower than men, including in Benin where women represent 80% of surveyed traders. This does not suggest the presence of discrimination. Agricultural trade appears open to all, irrespective of gender, ethnicity, or religion.

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  • Marcel Fafchamps, 2002. "Ethnicity and Networks in African Trade," CSAE Working Paper Series 2002-20, Centre for the Study of African Economies, University of Oxford.
  • Handle: RePEc:csa:wpaper:2002-20

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Fafchamps, Marcel & Quisumbing, Agnes, 2005. "Assets at marriage in rural Ethiopia," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 77(1), pages 1-25, June.
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    7. Yang, Dennis Tao, 1997. "Education and Off-Farm Work," Economic Development and Cultural Change, University of Chicago Press, vol. 45(3), pages 613-632, April.
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    10. Marcel Fafchamps & Agnes R. Quisumbing, 1999. "Human Capital, Productivity, and Labor Allocation in Rural Pakistan," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 34(2), pages 369-406.
    11. Webb, Patrick & von Braun, Joachim & Yohannes, Yisehac, 1992. "Famine in Ethiopia: policy implications of coping failure at national and household levels," Research reports 92, International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI).
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    13. Roth, Alvin E. & Sotomayor, Marilda, 1992. "Two-sided matching," Handbook of Game Theory with Economic Applications,in: R.J. Aumann & S. Hart (ed.), Handbook of Game Theory with Economic Applications, edition 1, volume 1, chapter 16, pages 485-541 Elsevier.
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    Cited by:

    1. Durlauf, Steven N. & Fafchamps, Marcel, 2005. "Social Capital," Handbook of Economic Growth,in: Philippe Aghion & Steven Durlauf (ed.), Handbook of Economic Growth, edition 1, volume 1, chapter 26, pages 1639-1699 Elsevier.
    2. Baliamoune-Lutz, Mina, 2011. "Trust-based social capital, institutions, and development," Journal of Behavioral and Experimental Economics (formerly The Journal of Socio-Economics), Elsevier, vol. 40(4), pages 335-346, August.
    3. Foundjem-Tita, Divine & Speelman, Stijn & D'Haese, Marijke & Degrande, Ann & Van Huylenbroeck, Guido & Van Damme, Patrick & Tchoundjeu, Zac, 2014. "A tale of transaction costs and forest law compliance: Trade permits for Non Timber Forests Products in Cameroon," Forest Policy and Economics, Elsevier, vol. 38(C), pages 132-142.
    4. Togba, Edith Leadaut, 2012. "Microfinance and households access to credit: Evidence from Côte d’Ivoire," Structural Change and Economic Dynamics, Elsevier, vol. 23(4), pages 473-486.
    5. Masakure, Oliver & Cranfield, John & Henson, Spencer, 2008. "The Financial Performance of Non-farm Microenterprises in Ghana," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 36(12), pages 2733-2762, December.
    6. Tanika Chakraborty & Anirban Mukherjee & Sarani Saha, 2015. "Court-ship, kinship and business: a study on the interaction between the formal and the informal institutions and its effect on entrepreneurship," IZA Journal of Labor & Development, Springer;Forschungsinstitut zur Zukunft der Arbeit GmbH (IZA), vol. 4(1), pages 1-21, December.
    7. Robinson, Amanda Lea, 2016. "Internal Borders: Ethnic-Based Market Segmentation in Malawi," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 87(C), pages 371-384.
    8. Arcand, Jean-Louis & Jaimovich, Dany, 2014. "Does ethnic diversity decrease economic interactions? Evidence from exchange networks in rural Gambia," MPRA Paper 60497, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    9. Mujawamariya, Gaudiose & Burger, Kees & D'Haese, Marijke F.C., 2012. "Behaviour and performance of traders in the gum arabic supply chain in Senegal: Investigating oligopsonistic myths," 2012 Conference, August 18-24, 2012, Foz do Iguacu, Brazil 126236, International Association of Agricultural Economists.
    10. Abiola Babajide Ph.D, 2012. "Effects of Microfinance on Micro and Small Enterprises (MSEs) Growth in Nigeria," Asian Economic and Financial Review, Asian Economic and Social Society, vol. 2(3), pages 463-477, July.
    11. Alice Nicole Sindzingre, 2007. "Poverty traps: a perspective from development economics," EconomiX Working Papers 2007-26, University of Paris Nanterre, EconomiX.

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    JEL classification:

    • O - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth
    • P - Economic Systems


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