Measuring Ethno-Linguistic Affinity between Nations

31 Pages Posted: 29 Oct 2009

Date Written: September 1, 2009


Research on ethno-linguistic ties has so far mostly focused on domestic measures of ethno-linguistic heterogeneity. Little attention has been given to the possibility that ethno-linguistic relations between countries may affect out- comes, particularly in a spatial econometric context. In this paper, I propose a way of measuring Ethno-Linguistic Affinity between nations. This new index measures the degree of similarity two randomly drawn individuals from two different populations can be expected to display. I show that this measure has a number of attractive theoretical characteristics, which make it particularly useful and continue to actually construct such a measure for all countries in Africa. Finally, using this measure of Ethno-Linguistic Affinity, I show that civil conflict in Africa is likely to spill over between contiguous ethno-linguistically similar countries.

Keywords: Ethno-Linguistic heterogeneity, spatial econometrics, conflict, Africa

JEL Classification: C21, F51, O1

Suggested Citation

de Groot, Olaf J. and de Groot, Olaf J., Measuring Ethno-Linguistic Affinity between Nations (September 1, 2009). DIW Berlin Discussion Paper No. 921, Available at SSRN: or

Olaf J. De Groot (Contact Author)

Bocconi University ( email )

Via Sarfatti, 25
Milan, MI 20136

DIW Berlin ( email )

Mohrenstraße 58
Berlin, 10117

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