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Ethnic Inequality

  • Alberto F. Alesina
  • Stelios Michalopoulos
  • Elias Papaioannou

This study explores the consequences and origins of between-ethnicity economic inequality both across and within countries. First, combining satellite images of nighttime luminosity with the historical homelands of ethnolinguistic groups we construct measures of ethnic inequality for a large sample of countries and show that the latter is strongly inversely related to comparative development. Second, differences in geographic endowments across ethnic homelands explain a sizable portion of ethnic inequality contributing to its persistence over time. Third, exploiting across-district within-African countries variation using individual-level data on ethnic identification and well-being from the Afrobarometer Surveys we find that between ethnic-group inequality is systematically linked to regional under-development. In this sample we also explore the channels linking ethnic inequality to (under) development, finding that ethnic inequality maps to political inequality, heightened perceptions of discrimination and undersupply of public goods.

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File URL: http://www.nber.org/papers/w18512.pdf
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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 18512.

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Date of creation: Nov 2012
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Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:18512
Note: DEV EFG POL
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  1. Bockstette, Valerie & Chanda, Areendam & Putterman, Louis, 2002. " States and Markets: The Advantage of an Early Start," Journal of Economic Growth, Springer, vol. 7(4), pages 347-69, December.
  2. Raphaёl Franck & Ilia Rainer, 2012. "Does the Leader’s Ethnicity Matter? Ethnic Favoritism, Education and Health in Sub-Saharan Africa," Working Papers 2012-06, Bar-Ilan University, Department of Economics.
  3. J. Vernon Henderson & Adam Storeygard & David N. Weil, 2009. "Measuring Economic Growth from Outer Space," NBER Working Papers 15199, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  4. Stelios Michalopoulos & Elias Papaioannou, 2011. "The Long-Run Effects of the Scramble for Africa," Discussion Papers Series, Department of Economics, Tufts University 0762, Department of Economics, Tufts University.
  5. Elias Papaioannou, 2014. "National Institutions and Subnational Development in Africa," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 129(1), pages 151-213.
  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. Nicola Gennaioli & Ilia Rainer, 2007. "The modern impact of precolonial centralization in Africa," Journal of Economic Growth, Springer, vol. 12(3), pages 185-234, September.
  8. Ashwini Deshpande, 2000. "Does Caste Still Define Disparity? A Look at Inequality in Kerala, India," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 90(2), pages 322-325, May.
  9. Desmet, Klaus & Ortuño-Ortín, Ignacio & Wacziarg, Romain, 2012. "The political economy of linguistic cleavages," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 97(2), pages 322-338.
  10. Stelios Michalopoulos, 2009. "The Origins of Ethnolinguistic Diversity," Carlo Alberto Notebooks 110, Collegio Carlo Alberto.
  11. Easterly, William, 2007. "Inequality does cause underdevelopment: Insights from a new instrument," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 84(2), pages 755-776, November.
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