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Ethnic Favoritism: Winner Takes All or Power Sharing? Evidence from school constructions in Benin

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  • Pierre André

    ()

  • Paul Maarek

    ()

  • Fatoumata Tapo

    () (Université de Cergy-Pontoise, THEMA)

Abstract

Ethnic favoritism often distorts public policies in fractionalized countries, especially in Subsaharan Africa. We estimate the impact of a change in the ethnic group of the education minister and of the president on school construction in Benin. We estimate difference in differences and regression discontinuities based on the dates of the changes, and we find that school constructions are more frequent when the district is coethnic with a new education minister, but less frequent when the district is coethnic with a new president. The effects are very large in magnitude: a coethnic education minister approximately doubles the number of school constructions, a coethnic president approximately divides this number by two. These results suggest that the president does not systematically favor his own ethnic group but has to share power in order to survive. By appointing politicians from other ethnic groups in the government, she redistributes power to these groups, as ministers have the discretionary power to favor their own group. This specific pattern of ethnic favoritism vanishes after the democratization of Benin, in 1991. The checks and balances created by democracy seemingly prevented ethnically targeted public policies.

Suggested Citation

  • Pierre André & Paul Maarek & Fatoumata Tapo, 2018. "Ethnic Favoritism: Winner Takes All or Power Sharing? Evidence from school constructions in Benin," THEMA Working Papers 2018-03, THEMA (THéorie Economique, Modélisation et Applications), Université de Cergy-Pontoise.
  • Handle: RePEc:ema:worpap:2018-03
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    More about this item

    Keywords

    School constructions; clientelism; ethnic favoritism; power sharing; Benin; Africa;

    JEL classification:

    • H41 - Public Economics - - Publicly Provided Goods - - - Public Goods
    • H52 - Public Economics - - National Government Expenditures and Related Policies - - - Government Expenditures and Education
    • O10 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - General
    • O12 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Microeconomic Analyses of Economic Development

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