The Long-Run Effects of the Scramble for Africa

Stylianos Michalopoulos, Harvard University/Brown University

We examine the long-run consequences of a neglected aspect of the Scramble for Africa, that of ethnic partitioning, and uncover the following regularities. First, apart from the land mass and presence of water bodies, historical homelands of split and non-split groups are similar across a wealth of observable characteristics suggesting the arbitrary nature of African boundaries. Second, using georeferenced data on conflict and exploiting within-country variation, we show the incidence of battles, violence against civilians, conflict duration and fatalities are higher in the historical homelands of partitioned groups. Third, we shed some light on the mechanisms at work showing that (i) ethnic partitioning is predominantly linked to conflict between government forces and rebels,
(ii) military interventions from neighboring countries are much more likely in the homelands of split ethnicities and (iii) an exploration of the status of ethnic groups in the political arena reveals that partitioned groups are systematically discriminated from the national governments and are more likely to participate in ethnic civil wars.
Finally, we zoom in on individuals and find that ethnically identifying with split groups results in lower access to public goods and poor education. The uncovered evidence brings in the foreground the detrimental repercussions of ethnic partitioning.


About the speaker
Stelios Michalopoulos is a Visiting Assistant Professor in the Business, Government, and the International Economy Unit at Harvard Business School and Assistant Professor of economics at Brown University. He is a Faculty Research Fellow at the National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) and Research Affiate of the Center of Economic Policy and Research (CEPR). He holds a B.A. from the Athens University of Economics and Business and a Ph.D. in Economics from Brown University. After completing his doctorate in 2008, he joined the department of economics at Tufts University as an Assistant Professor. In 2010-2011 he was the Deutsche Bank Member at the Institute for Advanced Study at Princeton. His primary research interests lie in the areas of political economy, growth and development, and the economics of culture. He has published in leading peer-reviewed economic journals including the American Economic Review, Econometrica, Journal of Political Economy and the Quarterly Journal of Economics.

Venue: Conference room

Date: 15 June 2015

Time: 12:30 - 13:30


UNU-MERIT