Ethnic Solidarity and the Individual Determinants of Ethnic Identification
This paper examines the individual determinants of ethnic identification using large sample surveys (about 30,000 respondents) representative of seven capitals of West-African countries. A small model that relates ethnic identification to an investment in ethnic capital suggests that individuals initially deprived of social or human capital resort to ethnicity to get socially inserted, and do even more so if their ethnic group itself is well inserted. Empirical results are consistent with this simple theory. First, education lowers ethnic salience. Second, ethnic identification is higher for uneducated unemployed or informal workers who seek a new or better job, and is further raised by the share of the individual’s ethnic group integrated on the job market. Third, ethnic identification is higher among migrants, and raised by the share of the migrant’s ethnic group that is employed. Group solidarity makes ethnic identity more salient for individuals deprived of other means for upward mobility.
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