सितम्बर 10, 2020
लेखक WID.world

Social Inequalities and Ethnic Cleavages in Botswana, Ghana, Nigeria, and Senegal

Social Inequalities and Ethnic Cleavages in Botswana, Ghana, Nigeria, and Senegal

In this paper, Jules Baleyte, Amory Gethin, Yajna Govind and Thomas Piketty draw on political attitudes surveys to document the evolution of electoral cleavages in Botswana, Ghana, Nigeria, and Senegal, four African countries that have held regular multi-party elections in the past two decades. The authors discuss how colonialism, the politicization of ethnic identities, and the structure of social inequalities have differentially shaped party politics in these countries. Ethnic cleavages are tightly linked to ethnic inequalities. They are highest in Nigeria, at intermediate levels in Ghana, and lowest in Botswana and Senegal. There is also evidence of strong educational and rural-urban divides, which cannot be explained by ethnic or regional affiliations. These results suggest that in these countries, electoral politics are not only explained by patronage, valence, or leader effects. They also clearly have a socioeconomic dimension.

Key-results / facts

  • Ethnic divides vary a lot across these countries ; they are now very strong in Nigeria, moderately strong in Ghana, and almost insignificant in Botswana and Senegal.
  • Ethnic divides appear to be stronger in countries with large ethnic inequalities. In Nigeria, substantial inequalities between the “Muslim North” and the “Christian South” have recently led to increasing political polarization. These inequalities were partly inherited from the precolonial era and were reinforced under British colonial rule.
  • “Class” cleavages also seem to be on the rise in all four countries, independently from ethnicity. Higher-educated and lower-educated voters have growingly diverged in their political preferences.
  • Rural-urban cleavages are also important. Stronger patronage networks and support for incumbent authoritarian parties in rural areas can partly explain these cleavages, as compared to greater access to political information in cities.
  • The paper uses the Afrobarometer surveys to document how support for specific political parties in Botswana, Ghana, Nigeria, and Senegal has varied with individual characteristics (ethnicity, income, education, age, gender, religion, etc.) in the past two decades.

Figure – Social Inequalities and Ethnic Cleavages

The figure shows the share of votes received by the PDP by religious affiliation. In 2019, Muslims represent about 41% of the electorate, Catholics 5%, and other Christians 53%.

Vote People Democratic Party Nigeria_World Inequality Lab



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