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Does ethnic diversity decrease economic interactions? Evidence from exchange networks in rural Gambia

Listed author(s):
  • Arcand, Jean-Louis
  • Jaimovich, Dany

Using a unique dataset collected in 59 rural Gambian villages, we study how ethnic heterogeneity is related to the structure of four economic exchange networks: land, labor, inputs and credit. We find that different measures of village-level ethnic fragmentation are mostly uncorrelated with network structure. At a more disaggregated level, household heads belonging to ethnic minorities are not less central than those from the predominant ethnicity in any of the networks and, at the dyadic level, the fact that two households share ethnicity is not an economically significant predictor of link formation. Our results indicate that, in the particular setting of our study, the structure of the exchange networks is better defined by other variables than ethnicity, and that ethnic heterogeneity is unlikely to be a driver for sub-optimal economic exchanges. We argue that our findings can be interpreted in a causal way as the current distribution of ethnic groups in rural Gambia is largely influenced by specific historical features of the British colonial administration. Moreover, the network structure of our data allow us to include fixed effects at different levels as well as to precisely measure kinship ties, a confounding variable often omitted in previous studies.

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Paper provided by University Library of Munich, Germany in its series MPRA Paper with number 60497.

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Date of creation: 2014
Handle: RePEc:pra:mprapa:60497
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  1. Fafchamps Marcel, 2003. "Ethnicity and Networks in African Trade," The B.E. Journal of Economic Analysis & Policy, De Gruyter, vol. 2(1), pages 1-53, December.
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  12. Jean-Louis Arcand & Patrick Guillaumont & Sylviane Guillaumont Jeanneney, 2000. "How to make a tragedy: on the alleged effect of ethnicity on growth," Journal of International Development, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 12(7), pages 925-938.
  13. Arcand, Jean-Louis & Fafchamps, Marcel, 2012. "Matching in community-based organizations," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 98(2), pages 203-219.
  14. Jaimovich, Dany, 2011. "Macrostructure and microstructure: Evidence from overlapping village networks in The Gambia," MPRA Paper 38932, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  15. Grimard, Franque, 1997. "Household consumption smoothing through ethnic ties: evidence from Cote d'Ivoire," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 53(2), pages 391-422, August.
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  17. Papke, Leslie E & Wooldridge, Jeffrey M, 1996. "Econometric Methods for Fractional Response Variables with an Application to 401(K) Plan Participation Rates," Journal of Applied Econometrics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 11(6), pages 619-632, Nov.-Dec..
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  20. Jaimovich, Dany, 2015. "Missing Links, Missing Markets: Evidence of the Transformation Process in the Economic Networks of Gambian Villages," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 66(C), pages 645-664.
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