Collective Action in Diverse Sierra Leone Communities

58 Pages Posted: 19 Jul 2010 Last revised: 11 Mar 2014

See all articles by Rachel Glennerster

Rachel Glennerster

Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) - Department of Economics

Edward Miguel

University of California, Berkeley - Department of Economics; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

Alexander D. Rothenberg

Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System

Date Written: July 2010

Abstract

Scholars have pointed to ethnic and other social divisions as a leading cause of economic underdevelopment, due in part to their adverse effects on public good provision and collective action. We investigate this issue in post-war Sierra Leone, one of the world's poorest countries. To address concerns over endogenous local ethnic composition, and in an advance over most existing work, we use an instrumental variables strategy relying on historical ethnic diversity data from the 1963 Sierra Leone Census. We find that local ethnic diversity is not associated with worse local public goods provision across a variety of outcomes, regression specifications, and diversity measures, and that these "zeros" are precisely estimated. We investigate the role that two leading mechanisms proposed in the literature - enforcement of collective action by strong local government authorities, and the existence of a common national identity and language - in generating these perhaps surprising findings.

Suggested Citation

Glennerster, Rachel and Miguel, Edward and Rothenberg, Alexander D., Collective Action in Diverse Sierra Leone Communities (July 2010). NBER Working Paper No. w16196. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1641572

Rachel Glennerster (Contact Author)

Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) - Department of Economics ( email )

E53-320
77 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02139
United States

Edward Miguel

University of California, Berkeley - Department of Economics ( email )

549 Evans Hall #3880
Berkeley, CA 94720-3880
United States

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

Alexander D. Rothenberg

Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System ( email )

20th and C Streets NW
Washington, DC 20551
United States

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