The Health Costs of Ethnic Distance: Evidence from Sub-Saharan AfricaISER Internal Seminars

We show that ethnic distances can explain the huge disparities in child mortality rates across ethnic groups in Africa. Using high quality individual level micro data from the Demographic and Health Surveys for fourteen Sub-Saharan African countries combined with a novel high resolution dataset on the distribution of ethnic groups across space we show that children whose mothers have a higher linguistic distance from their neighbours have a higher probability of dying before reaching the age of five. On the other hand linguistic diversity measured by fractionalization or polarization reduces the probability of child death. One possible explanation for our findings is that ethnic diversity reflects a higher stock of knowledge and information which leads to better health outcomes. However, such knowledge does not flow smoothly to groups which are linguistically distant and thus such groups lose out.

Presented by:

Joseph Gomes (ISER)

Date & time:

15 Jan 2014 13:00 pm

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