DP10451 Culture, Ethnicity and Diversity

Author(s): Klaus Desmet, Ignacio Ortuño-Ortín, Romain Wacziarg
Publication Date: March 2015
Keyword(s): between-group diversity, civil conflict, cultural fractionalization, cultural traits, culture, ethnicity, heterogeneity, identity, social norms, within-group diversity
JEL(s): D74, J15, P48, Z10
Programme Areas: International Trade and Regional Economics, Development Economics
Link to this Page: cepr.org/active/publications/discussion_papers/dp.php?dpno=10451

We investigate the empirical relationship between ethnicity and culture, defined as a vector of traits reflecting norms, values and attitudes. Using surveys of individual values in 76 countries, we find that ethnic identity is a significant predictor of cultural values, yet that within-group  variation  in  culture  trumps  between-group  variation.  Thus,  in  contrast  to  a  commonly held view, ethnic and cultural diversity are unrelated. Although only a small portion of a country's overall cultural heterogeneity occurs between groups, we  find  that  various political economy outcomes (such as civil  conflict and public goods provision) worsen when there is greater overlap between ethnicity and culture.