DP9225 | Ethnic Inequality

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This study explores the consequences and origins of contemporary differences in well-being across ethnic groups within countries. We construct measures of ethnic inequality combining ethnolinguistic maps on the spatial distribution of groups with satellite images of light density at night. Ethnic inequality is strongly inversely related to per capita income; this pattern holds when we condition on the overall degree of spatial inequality -that is also associated with underdevelopment. We further show that differences in geographic endowments across ethnic homelands explain a sizable portion of contemporary ethnic inequality. This deeply rooted inequality in geographic attributes across ethnic regions is also negatively related to comparative development. We also show that ethnic inequality goes in tandem with lower levels development within countries. Using micro-level data from the Afrobarometer surveys we show that individuals from the same ethnic group are worse off when they reside in districts with a high degree of ethnic inequality.