Ethnic Diversity, Social Norms and Elite Capture: Theory and Evidence from Indonesia
60 Pages Posted: 4 May 2020 Last revised: 1 Dec 2021
Date Written: November 29, 2021
Elite capture is a natural concern regarding decentralisation. We highlight the effects of ethnic diversity and social norms on the extent of such capture. Ethnic diversity, through differences in the preference for public goods, facilitates capture. However, this may be counteracted by social norms which promote cooperative behaviour within communities. We test these theoretical predictions using community-level data from the 1997 and 2007 Indonesian Family Life Survey (IFLS) rounds with fiscal decentralisation being implemented in between. We exploit a particular institutional feature of Indonesian communities | namely, the observance of traditional "Adat" laws to proxy coordination across ethnic groups. Overall, we find that ethnic diversity depresses community-level development spending after decentralisation, particularly where "Adat" laws (which promote an ethic of mutual co-operation) are not followed. The opposite is observed for spending on non-developmental items.
Keywords: Decentralisation, Lobbying, Local development, Political Economy
JEL Classification: D72, D74, H40
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation