Towards an Index of Ethnic Fractionalization

FEA Working Paper No. 2001-3

33 Pages Posted: 12 Aug 2012

See all articles by Emile Yeoh

Emile Yeoh

University of Malaya (UM)

Date Written: March 1, 2001


Existing studies on public policy and ethnicity either included only one of the three main non-class cleavages in society - racial (phenotypical), linguistic, religious - or considered them as separate variables. This paper suggests that they should be regarded as different manifestations of one single characteristic of ethnic differentiation, for to treat these different "ethnic markers" as separate variables or to employ one to the exclusion of the others regardless of the peculiarities of individual countries, forged especially by their specific historical geography and degree of ethnic intensity, inevitably leads to mismeasurement of the degree of fragmentation. Nevertheless, the inadequacy of such a measure of ethnic fragmentation needs to be recognized not only due to the crosscutting or mutually reinforcing nature of cleavages, but also to the existence of other non-ethnic social variables that either contribute to the institutional complexity of the social environment in which the ethnic fragmentation functions or by themselves directly affect the degree of ethnic fractionalization.

Keywords: ethnic differentiation, ethnic fractionalization, non-class cleavages, historical geography of ethnicity, ethnic intensity

JEL Classification: H12, J15, Z10, Z13

Suggested Citation

Yeoh, Emile, Towards an Index of Ethnic Fractionalization (March 1, 2001). FEA Working Paper No. 2001-3. Available at SSRN: or

Emile Yeoh (Contact Author)

University of Malaya (UM) ( email )

Kuala Lumpur, Wilayah Persekutuan 50603
University of Malaya (UM)
Kuala Lumpur, Wilayah Persekutuan 50603

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