Diversity and the Distribution of Public Goods in Sub-Saharan Africa

Paper forthcoming in the Journal of African Economies

Diversity is a key issue in the provision of critical publicly provided goods such as clean drinking water and education. To develop institutions that address this issue, it is critical that we understand the mechanisms through which diversity and public goods are related. A simple model of public good provision is developed to demonstrate that there are potentially measurable differences between existing theories, particularly in the distribution of the public good to minority groups. These differences are then illustrated with respect to the distribution of drinking water, electricity and education across 18 countries of Sub-Saharan Africa. The results are consistent with ethnic diversity affecting the provision of all three public goods, but with the mechanism behind the effect varying depending on the nature of the public good.

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