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Chinese Aid and Local Ethnic Identification

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Recent empirical evidence suggests that Chinese development finance may be particularly prone to elite capture and patronage spending. If aid ends up in the pockets of political elites and their ethno-regional networks, this may exacerbate ethnic grievances and contribute to ethnic mobilization. The present paper examines whether Chinese development projects make local ethnic identities more salient in African partner countries. A new geo-referenced dataset on the subnational allocation of Chinese development finance projects to Africa is geographically matched with survey data for 50,520 respondents from 11 African countries. The identification strategy consists in comparing sites where a Chinese project was under implementation at the time of the interview to sites where a Chinese project will appear subsequently. The empirical results indeed suggest that living near an ongoing Chinese project makes ethnic identities more salient. There is no indication of an equivalent pattern when considering development projects of other donors.

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  • Isaksson, Ann-Sofie, 2020. "Chinese Aid and Local Ethnic Identification," Working Paper Series 1336, Research Institute of Industrial Economics.
  • Handle: RePEc:hhs:iuiwop:1336
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    Cited by:

    1. Ann-Sofie Isaksson & Andreas Kotsadam, 2020. "Chinese Aid to Africa: Distinguishing Features and Local Effects," CESifo Forum, ifo Institute - Leibniz Institute for Economic Research at the University of Munich, vol. 21(02), pages 27-31, July.

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    Keywords

    China; Aid; Ethnic identities; Africa;

    JEL classification:

    • F35 - International Economics - - International Finance - - - Foreign Aid
    • O19 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - International Linkages to Development; Role of International Organizations
    • O55 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economywide Country Studies - - - Africa

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