Journal Article
Ethnic Divisions and Public Goods Provision, Revisited

A considerable amount of recent work in political science and economics builds from the hypothesis that ethnic heterogeneity leads to poor provision of public goods, a key component of poor governance. Much of this work cites Alesina, Baqir and Easterly (1999) as providing empirical proof. This paper argues that the findings of this article have been significantly overstated. Through a simple re-analysis of the data, it shows that ethnic diversity does not straightforwardly undermine public goods provision. Rather, at least in these data, the relationship is mixed for different public goods: ethnic diversity is related to lower provision of some public goods and to higher provision of others. In some cases, there is no clear relationship. The differences between the findings presented here and those of the original article are arguably subtle, but are worth noting because of the important contribution to the literature by Alesina et al. (1999).

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