Does Ethnic Diversity Decrease Economic Interactions? Evidence from Exchange Networks in Rural Gambia


Using a unique dataset collected in 59 rural Gambian villages, we study how ethnic heterogeneity is related to the structure of four economic exchange networks: land, labour, inputs and credit. We find that different measures of village‐level ethnic fragmentation are mostly uncorrelated with network structure. At a more disaggregated level, household heads belonging to ethnic minorities are not less central than those from the predominant ethnicity in any of the networks and, at the dyadic level, the fact that two households share ethnicity is not an economically significant predictor of link formation. Our results indicate that, in the particular setting of our study, the structure of the exchange networks is better defined by other variables than ethnicity and that ethnic heterogeneity is unlikely to be a driver for sub‐optimal economic exchanges.

Economics of Transition and Institutional Change
Jean-Louis Arcand
Jean-Louis Arcand
Professor of Economics

My research interests include development economics, impact evaluation and nutrition and health.