WP146: What drives quality of schools in Africa? Disentangling social capital and ethnic divisions

Welcome to the Afrobarometer publications section. For short, topical analyses, try our briefing papers (for survey rounds 1-5) and dispatches (starting with Round 6). For longer, more technical analyses of policy issues, check our policy papers. Our working papers are full-length analytical pieces developed for publication in academic journals or books. You can also search the entire publications database by keyword(s), language, country, and/or author.

Can't find a document?

As we work to upgrade our website, occasional technical issues may cause some links to break and some documents to be temporarily unavailable. If you're unable to find a specific document, please email snkomo@afrobarometer.org

Filter content by:

Working papers
Hollard, Guillaume and Omar Sene

Because of limited governmental resources in Africa, communities are often left in charge of managing their own schools. Two theories of African community’s ability to engage in collective action and improve quality of schools have emerged. While cross-country evidence underlines ethnic divisions as a key limit to collective action in Africa, field work suggests that social capital (i.e. the community’s ability to engage in collective action or establish shared norms) is the main driver of the quality of local public goods. In this paper, we use Afrobarometer data to test the role of social capital and ethnic divisions in determining the quality of schools.

We capture social capital by the average level of trust and ethnic divisions via an index of ethnic fractionalization. We skirt reverse causality problems between trust and quality of public goods by using historical information on the settlement patterns of ethnic groups in Sub-Saharan Africa. This yields measures of ethnic inherited trust which we use as an instrument for trust. To address concerns about endogenous residential sorting, we instrument ethnic fractionalization by the initial population density of ethnic historical homelands. We find that a one percent increase in the local level of trust increases the quality of local public goods by 0.2 to 1.14 percent. After controlling trust we discover ethnic fragmentation plays only a marginal role.