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Collective Action in Diverse Sierra Leone Communities

Author

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  • Rachel Glennerster
  • Edward Miguel
  • Alexander Rothenberg

Abstract

Scholars have pointed to ethnic and other social divisions as a leading cause of economic underdevelopment, due in part to their adverse effects on public good provision and collective action. We investigate this issue in post-war Sierra Leone, one of the world's poorest countries. To address concerns over endogenous local ethnic composition, and in an advance over most existing work, we use an instrumental variables strategy relying on historical ethnic diversity data from the 1963 Sierra Leone Census. We find that local ethnic diversity is not associated with worse local public goods provision across a variety of outcomes, regression specifications, and diversity measures, and that these "zeros" are precisely estimated. We investigate the role that two leading mechanisms proposed in the literature - enforcement of collective action by strong local government authorities, and the existence of a common national identity and language - in generating these perhaps surprising findings.

Suggested Citation

  • Rachel Glennerster & Edward Miguel & Alexander Rothenberg, 2010. "Collective Action in Diverse Sierra Leone Communities," NBER Working Papers 16196, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:16196
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    7. Habyarimana, James P. & Humphreys, Macartan & Posner, Daniel N. & Weinstein, Jeremy, 2006. "Why Does Ethnic Diversity Undermine Public Goods Provision? An Experimental Approach," IZA Discussion Papers 2272, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
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    Cited by:

    1. Seiffert, Sebastian, 2015. "The Role of Economic Geography in Subnational African Development," Annual Conference 2015 (Muenster): Economic Development - Theory and Policy 113186, Verein für Socialpolitik / German Economic Association.
    2. Stelios Michalopoulos & Elias Papaioannou, 2013. "Pre‐Colonial Ethnic Institutions and Contemporary African Development," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 81(1), pages 113-152, January.
    3. repec:eee:deveco:v:129:y:2017:i:c:p:47-57 is not listed on IDEAS
    4. Algan, Yann & Hémet, Camille & Laitin, David D., 2011. "Diversity and Public Goods: A Natural Experiment with Exogenous Residential Allocation," IZA Discussion Papers 6053, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    5. Pedro Naso & Erwin Bulte & Tim Swanson, 2017. "Can there be benefits from competing legal regimes? The impact of legal pluralism in post-conflict Sierra Leone," CIES Research Paper series 56-2017, Centre for International Environmental Studies, The Graduate Institute.
    6. Michalopoulos, Stelios & Papaioannou, Elias, 2010. "Divide and Rule or the Rule of the Divided? Evidence from Africa," CEPR Discussion Papers 8088, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    7. Gerard Padro i Miquel & Nancy Qian & Yang Yao, 2012. "Social Fragmentation, Public Goods and Elections: Evidence from China," NBER Working Papers 18633, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    8. Gerring, John & Thacker, Strom C. & Lu, Yuan & Huang, Wei, 2015. "Does Diversity Impair Human Development? A Multi-Level Test of the Diversity Debit Hypothesis," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 66(C), pages 166-188.
    9. Camille Hémet, 2015. "Diversity and employment prospects: neighbors matter!," Working Papers 2015/4, Institut d'Economia de Barcelona (IEB).
    10. Gomes, Joseph, 2014. "The health costs of ethnic distance: evidence from Sub-Saharan Africa," ISER Working Paper Series 2014-33, Institute for Social and Economic Research.
    11. James Fenske & Igor Zurimendi, 2017. "Oil and ethnic inequality in Nigeria," Journal of Economic Growth, Springer, vol. 22(4), pages 397-420, December.
    12. Yann Algan & Camille Hémet & David D. Laitin, 2016. "The Social Effects of Ethnic Diversity at the Local Level: A Natural Experiment with Exogenous Residential Allocation," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 124(3), pages 696-733.
    13. Fenske, James, 2015. "African polygamy: Past and present," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 117(C), pages 58-73.
    14. Katherine Casey & Rachel Glennerster & Edward Miguel, 2014. "Healing the Wounds: Learning from Sierra Leone's Postwar Institutional Reforms," NBER Chapters,in: African Successes, Volume I: Government and Institutions, pages 15-32 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    15. repec:eee:deveco:v:132:y:2018:i:c:p:115-129 is not listed on IDEAS
    16. Wong P-H., 2014. "How can political trust be built after civil wars? : lessons from post-conflict Sierra Leone," MERIT Working Papers 083, United Nations University - Maastricht Economic and Social Research Institute on Innovation and Technology (MERIT).
    17. James Fenske, 2014. "Ecology, Trade, And States In Pre-Colonial Africa," Journal of the European Economic Association, European Economic Association, vol. 12(3), pages 612-640, June.
    18. James Fenske, 2014. "Ecology, Trade, And States In Pre-Colonial Africa," Journal of the European Economic Association, European Economic Association, vol. 12(3), pages 612-640, 06.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • H41 - Public Economics - - Publicly Provided Goods - - - Public Goods
    • O12 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Microeconomic Analyses of Economic Development
    • O55 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economywide Country Studies - - - Africa

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