Ruhr Economic Papers

Ruhr Economic Papers #872

Ethnic Cooperation and Conflict in Kenya

by Alicia Barriga, Neil T.N. Ferguson, Nathan Fiala and Martin Leroch

RWI, 10/2020, 18 S./p., 8 Euro, ISBN 978-3-96973-009-6 DOI: 10.4419/96973009



There is growing evidence that ethnic divisions and conflict experience affect social capital and economic interactions, in both positive and negative ways. However, recent work has suggested that the experience of electoral violence in Kenya does not correlate with laboratory behavior between the two largest ethnic groups, the Luo and Kikuyu. We conduct a similar set of experiments measuring social capital and find the same results: altruism, trusting and trustworthy behavior, and cooperation between these two ethnic groups are not affected by priming people on the ethnic identity of their partners or on the salience of election conflict. Our findings suggest electoral violence does not necessarily lead to changes in behavior between ethnic groups and that cooperative failure across groups may be easily overstated or have other mechanisms.

JEL-Classification: C90, H41, O43

Keywords: Ethnic cooperation; conflict; election violence; priming