Who Benefits? How Local Ethnic Demography Shapes Political Favoritism in Africa.

Janina Beiser-McGrath
Under review.
This article investigates how local ethnic demography affects strategies of political favoritism in Africa. Recent studies of ethnic favoritism either investigate potential advantages of presidents’ ethnic peers or of presidents’ home regions. But as regions in multi‐ethnic states are ethnically rarely perfectly homogeneous, these studies cannot disentangle whether favoritism is targeted at entire regions or at individuals from governing ethnic groups regardless of where they reside. We argue that governments provide non‐excludable local public goods that residents benefit from irrespective of their ethnicity in districts with a high share of co‐ethnics. In districts with a lower share of co‐ethnics, governments provide targeted handouts to co‐ethnic individuals. Using new data on local ethnic demography as well as geocoded DHS data on infant mortality across 22 African states, we find empirical support for this hypothesis. These findings have important implications for theories of distributional politics and conflict in multi‐ethnic societies.
URL:
DOI:
Beiser-McGrath, Janina, Carl Müller-Crepon, and Yannick Pengl. 2018. “Who Benefits? How Local Ethnic Demography Shapes Political Favoritism in Africa.” Under review.
@article{ethnic-demography-favoritism,
   title = {Who Benefits? How Local Ethnic Demography Shapes Political Favoritism in Africa.},
   author = {Beiser-McGrath, Janina and M\"uller-Crepon, Carl and Pengl, Yannick},
   year = {2018},
   journal = {Under review},
   volume = {},
   number = {},
   pages = {},
   abstract = {This article investigates how local ethnic demography affects strategies of political favoritism in Africa. Recent studies of ethnic favoritism either investigate potential advantages of presidents' ethnic peers or of presidents'  home regions. But as regions in multi-ethnic states are ethnically rarely perfectly homogeneous, these studies cannot disentangle  whether favoritism is targeted at entire regions or at  individuals from governing ethnic groups regardless of where they reside. We argue that governments provide non-excludable local public goods that residents benefit from irrespective of their ethnicity in districts with a high share of co-ethnics. In districts with a lower share of co-ethnics, governments provide   targeted handouts to co-ethnic individuals. Using new data on local ethnic demography as well as geocoded DHS data on infant mortality across 22 African states, we find empirical support for this hypothesis. These findings have important implications for theories of distributional politics and conflict in multi-ethnic societies. 
},
   doi = {},
   url = {},
   status = {personal}
}