Historical Origins of Persistent Inequality

Investigator: CDEP Affiliate Belinda Archibong

Persistent inequality between groups or horizontal inequality has well documented negative consequences for development outcomes. Recent studies have documented negative relationships between ethnic inequality, income and public good provision (Alesina et al., 2016; Easterly and Levine, 1997) and, more generally, horizontal inequality and conflict (Stewart, 2009; Langer and Stewart, 2013). Following work presented in Archibong (2016; 2017), this project explores the thesis that persistent group based inequality in access to public services is in large part driven by historical heterogeneous federal government policy towards different groups within countries. The project assembles and uses archival and survey data from 1850 to the present from Nigeria and a sample of African countries to examine this thesis.

An important contribution of this project is to understand and formally model persistent ethnic group based inequality as an outcome of payoffs from compliance in sequential games between local ethnic state leaders and federal autocratic regimes. Another important contribution of the research is to provide empirical evidence documenting patterns and effects of persistent horizontal inequality in access to public services and provide new metrics for more precisely measuring group based inequality.

This project is part of CDEP's Politics, Institutions and Conflict Initiative.