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The ethnicity distraction ? political credibility and partisan preferences in Africa


  • Keefer, Philip


Much of the research on ethnicity, development and conflict implicitly assumes that ethnic groups act collectively in pursuit of their interests. Collective political action is typically facilitated by political parties able to make credible commitments to pursue group interests. Other work, however, emphasizes the lack of political credibility as a source of adverse development outcomes. Evidence presented here uses partisan preferences across 16 Sub-Saharan African countries to distinguish these positions. The evidence is inconsistent with the credibility of party commitments to pursue collective ethnic interests: ethnic clustering of political support is less widespread than expected; members of clustered ethnic groups exhibit high rates of partisan disinterest and are only slightly more likely to express a partisan preference; and partisan preferences are more affected by factors, such as gift-giving, often associated with low political credibility. These findings emphasize the importance of looking beyond ethnicity in analyses of economic development.

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  • Keefer, Philip, 2010. "The ethnicity distraction ? political credibility and partisan preferences in Africa," Policy Research Working Paper Series 5236, The World Bank.
  • Handle: RePEc:wbk:wbrwps:5236

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Martin L. Weitzman, 1976. "On the Welfare Significance of National Product in a Dynamic Economy," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 90(1), pages 156-162.
    2. Amil Petrin & Jerome Reiter & Kirk White, 2011. "The Impact of Plant-level Resource Reallocations and Technical Progress on U.S. Macroeconomic Growth," Review of Economic Dynamics, Elsevier for the Society for Economic Dynamics, vol. 14(1), pages 3-26, January.
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    Cited by:

    1. Bodea, Cristina & Higashijima, Masaaki & Singh, Raju Jan, 2016. "Oil and Civil Conflict: Can Public Spending Have a Mitigation Effect?," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 78(C), pages 1-12.
    2. Jeffrey Conroy-Krutz, 2016. "Competing cleavages in sub-Saharan Africa? How economic distance affects ethnic bloc politics," WIDER Working Paper Series 104, World Institute for Development Economic Research (UNU-WIDER).

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    Parliamentary Government; Educational Sciences; Social Inclusion&Institutions; Population Policies; Education and Society;

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