Public Goods and the Salience of Local Ethnic Diversity: The Case of Teacher Absenteeism in Africa
78 Pages Posted: 13 May 2016
Date Written: April 29, 2016
Scholars have identified ethnic diversity as a major impediment to the provision of public goods. Whether or not this depends on the salience of ethnic identification is unclear. I test this distinction in the context of primary education provision across districts in Africa, the most diverse continent in the world. Using several data sources and specifications, I find that local ethnic diversity is robustly associated with teacher absenteeism only where ethnic identification is salient. I investigate potential causal pathways using data from school visits in Uganda, finding suggestive evidence that the effectiveness of parent teacher associations and the strength of social networks between teachers play important roles. The results indicate that the deleterious effects of ethnic diversity on the provision of public goods could be mitigates by policies that reduce ethnic salience.
Keywords: ethnic salience, policy, ethnic diversity, public goods, Africa, teachers, education, Uganda
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