Ethnic Barriers to Urbanization in Sub-Saharan Africa.
Rosenthal-Kay, Jordan D.
- In this thesis, I explore how ethnic barriers mediate urbanization in sub-Saharan Africa. Relying on exogenous weather shocks, I identify the effect of ethnic fractionalization and ethnic favoritism on rural-to-urban migration. To this end, this work relies on two new datasets: an assignment of heads of state from 1992 to 2008 on ethnolinguistic maps and a novel dataset of city-level ethnolinguist... read moreic fractionalization. Exploiting variation in yearly, geocoded rain data, I examine the impact of weather shocks on urban nighttime luminosity. Nighttime luminosity serves to proxy incomes. Weather is a determinant of rural incomes; a decline in rainfall drives down rural wages, spurring rural-to-urban migration reflected by brighter cities. I find that on balance, negative weather shocks near cities in the ethnolinguistic homelands of political leaders lead to larger increases in nighttime luminosity than for cities falling outside the leader's ethnic homeland. Further, I find that the effect of weather on urban nighttime luminosity is decreasing in my measure of urban ethnic fractionalization. I show the effect of ethnic favoritism on the elasticity of nighttime luminosity with respect to rainfall is greater in autocracies, while the effect of ethnic fractionalization on this elasticity is greater in democracies. The work concludes with an examination of whether cities locate randomly on ethnolinguistic maps. I find that cities cluster near ethnolinguistic borders more often than random by developing a counterfactual of city location based on nightlight luminosity and physical geography variables.read less