DP14170 The Employment Effects of Ethnic Politics

Author(s): Francesco Amodio, Giorgio Chiovelli, Sebastian Hohmann
Publication Date: December 2019
Date Revised: February 2021
Keyword(s): Africa, democracy, employment, ethnic politics, traditional leaders
JEL(s): J15, J70, O10, P26, Q15
Programme Areas: Labour Economics, Development Economics
Link to this Page: cepr.org/active/publications/discussion_papers/dp.php?dpno=14170

This paper studies the labor market consequences of ethnic politics in African democracies. Using data from 15 countries, 32 elections, and more than 400,000 individuals, we implement a regression discontinuity design that compares individuals from ethnicities connected to parties at the margin of electing a local representative in the national parliament. Having a local ethnic party politician in parliament increases the likelihood of being employed by 2-3 pp. The available evidence supports the hypothesis that this effect results from strategic interactions between politicians and traditional leaders, the latter being empowered to allocate land and agricultural jobs in exchange for votes.