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Measuring Ethnic Stratification and its Effect on Trust in Africa

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Roland Hodler, Sorawoot Srisuma, Alberto Vesperoni, Noemie Zurlinden

Original languageEnglish
Article number102475
Early online date21 Apr 2020
Accepted/In press20 Mar 2020
E-pub ahead of print21 Apr 2020
PublishedSep 2020

King's Authors


We conjecture that mistrust and social conflict in a society may depend on ethnic stratification, i.e., the extent to which the hierarchy in socio-economic positions across individuals follows ethnolinguistic lines. We define and axiomatically characterize an index of ethnic stratification that generalizes the idea of between-group inequality to situations where data on economic and ethnolinguistic distances between pairs of individuals is available. We use Afrobarometer survey data to measure ethnic stratification at the level of towns and villages in 26 ethnically diverse African countries. We find that ethnic stratification is negatively related to trust in relatives, neighbors and other acquaintances, and positively related to nearby conflicts. These findings shed new light on the debate about the merits of conflict and contact theory.

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