Ethnic Diversity and Economic Stability in Africa Revisited at Yale University


All Together at Yale Uni.JPG

"Causes of Economic Instability in Africa" was the topic of a symposium held at Yale University on January 16 and 17. The event was organized by JICA-RI with assistance from Kobe University and in cooperation with Yale University's MacMillan Center for International and Area Studies.

The Yale symposium was the second of a four-part series for a research project coordinated by JICA-RI Senior Research Fellow Takaaki Oiwa. The first, held in Kobe in July 2009, served as a theoretical discussion meant to elucidate the issues surrounding African economy and diversity. Since then, the returning experts of the Kobe symposium have expanded on their research and included empirical data while the newcomers offered fresh insight. Some of the participants are also currently conducting new field-based studies to further enhance the research. The Yale symposium focused specifically on the causal factors for economic instability in Africa.

The symposium was comprised of round-table paper presentations and discussions by the international panel of experts. The discussions were far-reaching, pinpointing and analyzing links between ethnic diversity and economy. The experts concluded that ethnicity is among the top "identities" in which Africans place importance along with occupation, religion and class. Also of utmost significance is the centrality of land in an African political context, given the contentious ownership issues surrounding it. Ethnically-diverse residents of the land are key in political contests making politics highly ethnicity-based and, thereby, more unstable. This in turn stunts economic growth and worsens instability. Further discussion yielded that ethnic diversity per se does not contribute directly to economic instability. Rather, it is through its impact on "horizontal inequality" (inequalities among groups of people that share a common identity) that ethnic diversity influences economic instability.

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(Left to right) Profs. Hiroyuki Hino, Gustav Ranis and Takaaki Oiwa

The symposium series is part of the on-going JICA-RI research project "Ethnic Diversity and Economic Instability in Africa: Policies for Harmonious Development." This project, led by Kobe University professors Hiroyuki Hino and Motoki Takahashi, aims to gain a comprehensive understanding of the linkages between ethnic diversity and economic instability in Africa, as well as identify economic regimes and policies that diminish the impact of ethnically-diverse communities as an underlying cause of economic instability. The project exemplifies JICA-RI's commitment to sustainable growth and poverty reduction - two of its main research areas.

Internationals at Yale.JPG

This project is also an example of JICA-RI's collaborative research approach in that it brings together experts from a wide range of disciplines such as economics, social psychology, anthropology, history, and political science among others. Upon project completion, all individual research will be construed into one publication and presented publicly with the aim of guiding more informed policy decision-making - particularly for governments of ethnically-diverse nations and for the donors supporting them.

Over the next two years, the four-part study will continue with the next two workshops to be held in Nairobi in mid 2010 followed by the final session in Oxford in early 2011. The Nairobi workshop will focus on Kenya as a case study due to the political and economic turmoil witnessed during the nation's 2007 elections, and the Oxford workshop will aim at actual policies for harmonious development in Africa. A final presentation of the findings is planned for Tokyo in 2011.

RELATED RSEARCH AREA: Growth and Poverty Reduction


January 16

Opening Session

Prof. Hiroyuki Hino, Kobe University/JICA Research Institute
Mr. Takaaki Oiwa, JICA Research Institute

Opening Remarks
Prof. Gustav Ranis, Yale University
Prof. Ryuzo Miyao, Kobe University

Session 1

“Horizontal Inequalities and Market Instability in Africa”
Chair: Prof. Gustav Ranis, Yale University
Speaker: Prof. Frances Stewart, University of Oxford
Comment: Prof. John Lonsdale, University of Cambridge
Prof. Kimuli Kasara, Columbia University

Session 2

“Identity, Diversity, and Economic Performance in Africa: Quantitative Analyses”
Chair: Prof. Anjan Mukherji, Jawaharlal Nehru University
Speaker: Prof. Siddharth Chandra, Michigan State University
Comment: Prof. Nahomi Ichino, Harvard University
Prof. Satish Jain, Jawaharlal Nehru University

12:00-13:30 Lunch

Session 3

“The (Hidden) Costs of Political Instability: Evidence from Kenya’s 2007 Election Crisis”
Prof. Edward Oyugi, Kenyatta University
Prof. Jonathan Robinson, UC Santa Cruz
Comment: Prof. Bruce Berman, Queen’s University
Prof. Chris Udry, Yale University

14:45-15:00 Coffee Break

Session 4

“Ethnicity in Relation to Conflict over Control and Access to Natural Resources in Africa: The Case of Kenya”
Chair: Mr. James Adams, The World Bank
Speaker: Prof. Oduor Ong’wen, Southern and Eastern African Trade Information and Negotiation Institute
Comment: Prof. Tavneet Suri, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Prof. Parker Shipton, Boston University

18:30-20:30 Dinner
Speaker: Prof. Stathis Kalyvas, Yale University

January 17

Session 5

“Inter-linkage between Ethnicity and Development: An Analytical Framework”
Chair: Prof. John Lonsdale, University of Cambridge
Speaker: Prof. Motoki Takahashi, Kobe University
Comment: Prof. Michael Kremer, Harvard University
Prof. Jean Ensminger, California Institute of Technology

Session 6

“Regional Integration in East Africa : Diversity or Economic Conformity”
Chair: Mr. Takaaki Oiwa, JICA Research Institute
Speaker: Prof. Junichi Goto, Keio University
Comment: Prof. Edward Oyugi, Kenyatta University
Mr. James Adams, The World Bank

Discussion of Ongoing and Future Research 1
Moderator: Prof. Hiroyuki Hino, Kobe University/JICA Research Institute

“Ethnicity, Institutions, and the Provision of Public Goods by Local Governments in Kenya: Project Overview and Preliminary Research Design”
Prof. Michael Kremer, Harvard University
Prof. Ryan Sheely, Harvard University

12:00-13:00 Lunch

Session 7

Discussion of Ongoing and Future Research 2
Moderator: Prof. Hiroyuki Hino, Kobe University/JICA Research Institute

“Ethnicity as a determinant of Economic Geography: The Case of Kenya”
Prof. Nobuaki Hamaguchi, Kobe University

Summing-Up and Nairobi Program
Prof. Hiroyuki Hino, Kobe University/JICA Research Institute

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