African political leaders have a tendency to favor members of their own ethnic group. Yet for all other ethnic groups in a country, it is unclear whether having a similar ethnicity to the leader is beneficial. To shed light on this issue, I use a continuous measure of linguistic similarity to quantify the ethnic similarity of a leader to all ethnic groups in a country. Combined with panel data on 163 ethnic groups partitioned across 35 sub-Saharan countries, I use within-group time variation in similarity that results from a partitioned group's concurrent exposure to multiple national leaders.
Findings show that ethnic favoritism is more widespread than previously believed: in addition to evidence of coethnic favoritism, I document evidence of non-coethnic favoritism that typically goes undetected in the absence of a continuous measure of similarity. I also find that patronage tends to be targeted toward ethnic regions rather than individuals of a particular ethnic group. I relate these results to the literature on coalition building, and provide evidence that ethnicity is one of the guiding principles behind high-level government appointments.
"Ethnolinguistic Favoritism in African Politics."
American Economic Journal: Applied Economics,
Political Processes: Rent-seeking, Lobbying, Elections, Legislatures, and Voting Behavior
Economics of Minorities, Races, Indigenous Peoples, and Immigrants; Non-labor Discrimination
Economic Development: Human Resources; Human Development; Income Distribution; Migration
Formal and Informal Sectors; Shadow Economy; Institutional Arrangements
Economic Sociology; Economic Anthropology; Language; Social and Economic Stratification