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How Strong are Ethnic Preferences?

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Ethnic divisions have been shown to adversely affect economic performance and political stability, especially in Africa, but the underlying reasons remain contested, with multiple mechanisms potentially playing a role. We utilize lab experiments to isolate the role of one such mechanism—ethnic preferences—which have been central in both theory and in the conventional wisdom about the impact of ethnic differences. We employ an unusually rich research design, collecting multiple rounds of experimental data with a large sample of 1,300 subjects in Nairobi; employing within-lab priming conditions; and utilizing both standard and novel experimental measures, including implicit association tests. The econometric approach was pre-specified in a registered pre-analysis plan. Most of our tests yield no evidence of coethnic bias. The results run strongly against the common presumption of extensive ethnic bias among ordinary Kenyans, and suggest that other mechanisms may be more important in explaining the negative association between ethnic diversity and economic and political outcomes.

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  • Berge, Lars Ivar Oppedal & Bjorvatn, Kjetil & Galle, Simon & Miguel, Edward & Posner, Daniel & Tungodden, Bertil & Zhang, Kelly, 2015. "How Strong are Ethnic Preferences?," Discussion Paper Series in Economics 26/2015, Norwegian School of Economics, Department of Economics.
  • Handle: RePEc:hhs:nhheco:2015_026
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    Cited by:

    1. Lucia Corno & Eliana La Ferrara & Justine Burns, 2019. "Interaction, stereotypes and performance. Evidence from South Africa," IFS Working Papers W19/03, Institute for Fiscal Studies.
    2. Christensen, Garret & Miguel, Edward & Sturdy, Jennifer, 2017. "Transparency, Reproducibility, and the Credibility of Economics Research," MetaArXiv 9a3rw, Center for Open Science.
    3. Ravetti, Chiara & Sarr, Mare & Munene, Daniel & Swanson, Tim, 2019. "Discrimination and favouritism among South African workers: Ethnic identity and union membership," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 123(C), pages 1-1.
    4. Garret Christensen & Edward Miguel, 2018. "Transparency, Reproducibility, and the Credibility of Economics Research," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 56(3), pages 920-980, September.
    5. Samuel Bazzi & Matthew Gudgeon, 2017. "The Political Boundaries of Ethnic Divisions," Boston University - Department of Economics - Working Papers Series WP2018-005, Boston University - Department of Economics.
    6. Emilio Depetris-Chauvin & Ruben Durante & Filipe Campante, 2020. "Building Nations through Shared Experiences: Evidence from African Football," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 110(5), pages 1572-1602, May.
    7. Lauren Falcao Bergquist & Michael Dinerstein, 2020. "Competition and Entry in Agricultural Markets: Experimental Evidence from Kenya," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 110(12), pages 3705-3747, December.
    8. Annerose Nisser & Nils B Weidmann, 2016. "Measuring Ethnic Preferences in Bosnia and Herzegovina with Mobile Advertising," PLOS ONE, Public Library of Science, vol. 11(12), pages 1-11, December.
    9. Chakravarty, Surajeet & Fonseca, Miguel A. & Ghosh, Sudeep & Kumar, Pradeep & Marjit, Sugata, 2019. "Religious fragmentation, social identity and other-regarding preferences: Evidence from an artefactual field experiment in India," Journal of Behavioral and Experimental Economics (formerly The Journal of Socio-Economics), Elsevier, vol. 82(C).
    10. Daniel J. Lee, 2018. "Does Implicit Bias Predict Dictator Giving?," Games, MDPI, vol. 9(4), pages 1-19, September.
    11. Chiara Ravetti & Mare Sarr & Tim Swanson & Daniel Munene, 2017. "Discrimination and favouritism among workers: union membership and ethnic identity," CIES Research Paper series 57-2017, Centre for International Environmental Studies, The Graduate Institute.
    12. Elena Cettolin & Sigrid Suetens, 2019. "Return on Trust is Lower for Immigrants," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 129(621), pages 1992-2009.
    13. Utteeyo Dasgupta & Subha Mani & Prakarsh Singh, 2020. "Searching for religious discrimination among childcare workers," Review of Development Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 24(2), pages 362-382, May.
    14. Cettolin, Elena & Suetens, Sigrid, 2017. "Return on trust is lower for immigrants," CEPR Discussion Papers 12244, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    15. Surajeet Chakravarty & Miguel A Fonseca & Sudeep Ghosh & Sugata Marjit, 2016. "Religious Fragmentation, Social Identity and Conflict: Evidence from an Artefactual Field Experiment in India," PLOS ONE, Public Library of Science, vol. 11(10), pages 1-17, October.
    16. Opoku-Agyemang, Kweku A., 2017. "A Human-Computer Interaction Approach for Integrity in Economics," SocArXiv ra3cs, Center for Open Science.
    17. Alain Cohn & Michel André Maréchal, 2016. "Priming in economics," ECON - Working Papers 226, Department of Economics - University of Zurich.

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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Ethnic preferences; Discrimination; Cooperation; Priming;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • D03 - Microeconomics - - General - - - Behavioral Microeconomics: Underlying Principles
    • D64 - Microeconomics - - Welfare Economics - - - Altruism; Philanthropy; Intergenerational Transfers
    • D74 - Microeconomics - - Analysis of Collective Decision-Making - - - Conflict; Conflict Resolution; Alliances; Revolutions
    • F63 - International Economics - - Economic Impacts of Globalization - - - Economic Development

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