Ethnic divisions have been shown to adversely affect economic performance and political stability, especially in Africa, but the underlying reasons remain contested, with multiple mechanisms potentially playing a role. We utilize lab experiments to isolate the role of one such mechanism—ethnic preferences—which have been central in both theory and in the conventional wisdom about the impact of ethnic differences, and employ an unusually rich research design and large sample. Most tests yield no evidence of coethnic bias. The results run strongly against the common presumption of extensive ethnic bias among ordinary Kenyans, and suggest that other mechanisms may be more important in explaining the negative impact of ethnic diversity. (Co-authors L. Berge, K. Bjorvatn, S. Galle, D. Posner, B. Tungodden, K. Zhang).
At the 2015 UBS Center Forum for Economic Dialogue in Zurich, Ted spoke on the topic of Conflict, Climate and Development in Africa. He spoke on his recent research with co-authors Solomon Hsiang and Marshall Burke on the links between extreme climate and violent conflict (which appeared in Science in 2013 here) and their article on the non-linear realtionship between temperature and economic productivity (Nature 2015 here). He discussed implications for public policy responses and climate change, and the prospects for future African economic development. (Ted starts speaking at minute 31:00.)