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Ethnic Solidarity and the Individual Determinants of Ethnic Identification


  • Thomas Bossuroy


This paper examines the individual determinants of ethnic identication using large sample surveys (about 30,000 respondents) representative of seven capitals of West-African countries. A small model that relates ethnic identication 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 identication 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 identication 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.

Suggested Citation

  • Thomas Bossuroy, 2011. "Ethnic Solidarity and the Individual Determinants of Ethnic Identification," Working Papers 242, Economic Research Southern Africa.
  • Handle: RePEc:rza:wpaper:242

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    Cited by:

    1. Carlos Gradin, 2015. "Poverty and Ethnicity among Black South Africans," The European Journal of Development Research, Palgrave Macmillan;European Association of Development Research and Training Institutes (EADI), vol. 27(5), pages 921-942, December.

    More about this item


    Ethnicity; Identity; Social capital; Networks; Africa;

    JEL classification:

    • A13 - General Economics and Teaching - - General Economics - - - Relation of Economics to Social Values
    • A14 - General Economics and Teaching - - General Economics - - - Sociology of Economics
    • D74 - Microeconomics - - Analysis of Collective Decision-Making - - - Conflict; Conflict Resolution; Alliances; Revolutions
    • O17 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Formal and Informal Sectors; Shadow Economy; Institutional Arrangements

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