Scandinavian Working Papers in Economics

Discussion Paper Series in Economics,
Norwegian School of Economics, Department of Economics

No 26/2015: How Strong are Ethnic Preferences?

Lars Ivar Oppedal Berge (), Kjetil Bjorvatn (), Simon Galle (), Edward Miguel (), Daniel Posner (), Bertil Tungodden () and Kelly Zhang ()
Additional contact information
Lars Ivar Oppedal Berge: Dept. of Economics, Norwegian School of Economics and Business Administration, Postal: NHH , Department of Economics, Helleveien 30, N-5045 Bergen, Norway
Kjetil Bjorvatn: Dept. of Economics, Norwegian School of Economics and Business Administration, Postal: NHH , Department of Economics, Helleveien 30, N-5045 Bergen, Norway
Simon Galle: University of California, Berkeley, Postal: 530 Evans Hall #3880, Berkeley, California 94720-3880
Edward Miguel: University of California, Berkeley, Postal: 530 Evans Hall #3880, Berkeley, California 94720-3880
Daniel Posner: UCLA, Postal: Department of Political Science, 4289 Bunche Hall , University of California, Los Angeles , Los Angeles, CA 90095
Bertil Tungodden: Dept. of Economics, Norwegian School of Economics and Business Administration, Postal: NHH , Department of Economics, Helleveien 30, N-5045 Bergen, Norway
Kelly Zhang: Stanford University, Postal: Department of Political Science, Encina Hall West, Suite 100, Stanford, CA 94305-6044

Abstract: Ethnic divisions have been shown to adversely affect economic performance and political stability, especially in Africa, but the underlying reasons remain contested, with multiple mechanisms potentially playing a role. We utilize lab experiments to isolate the role of one such mechanism—ethnic preferences—which have been central in both theory and in the conventional wisdom about the impact of ethnic differences. We employ an unusually rich research design, collecting multiple rounds of experimental data with a large sample of 1,300 subjects in Nairobi; employing within-lab priming conditions; and utilizing both standard and novel experimental measures, including implicit association tests. The econometric approach was pre-specified in a registered pre-analysis plan. Most of our tests yield no evidence of coethnic bias. The results run strongly against the common presumption of extensive ethnic bias among ordinary Kenyans, and suggest that other mechanisms may be more important in explaining the negative association between ethnic diversity and economic and political outcomes.

Keywords: Ethnic preferences; Discrimination; Cooperation; Priming

JEL-codes: D03; D64; D74; F63

52 pages, November 26, 2015

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DP%2026.pdf PDF-file 
DP%2026%20online-Appendix_2015-10-27.pdf PDF-file Online Appendix

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