Discussion paper

DP19034 Leveraging Edutainment and Social Networks to Foster Interethnic Harmony

Interethnic tensions pose a significant barrier to the socioeconomic advancement of minority groups. This paper investigates the effectiveness of educational entertainment (or edutainment) in promoting interethnic harmony. We carried out a cluster-randomized field experiment involving over 3,300 households across 120 polyethnic villages in Bangladesh. We find that disseminating information through a documentary film designed to educate the ethnically dominant Bengalis about the ethnic minority Santals in polyethnic villages increased the ethnic majority's prosociality toward minorities. Using emotion-detecting software to analyze facial expressions during the film viewing reveals that empathy played a significant role in this process. On the other hand, we do not find any impacts on the prevalence of negative stereotypes and discriminatory opinions toward minorities. In addition, we find that targeting network-central people with the intervention generated large positive spillovers on others within villages, including Santals. We further corroborate these findings through village-level administrative data showing a reduction in police complaints in treatment villages. Five months after the intervention, we conducted a casual work field experiment involving 720 randomly selected participants from the main intervention. In this casual work task, pairs of ethnic majority and minority participants jointly produced paper bags for a local supplier under a piece-rate compensation scheme. We find treatment effects on productivity for both ethnic groups. For the ethnic majority, exposure to edutainment led to higher productivity, possibly through increased prosociality towards minorities. Among the ethnic minority, reciprocity or peer pressure appears to explain their observed productivity gains. Overall, our findings demonstrate the power of edutainment and social networks in promoting harmony within multiethnic communities.


Siddique, A, M Vlassopoulos and Y Zenou (2024), ‘DP19034 Leveraging Edutainment and Social Networks to Foster Interethnic Harmony‘, CEPR Discussion Paper No. 19034. CEPR Press, Paris & London. https://cepr.org/publications/dp19034