Published online by Cambridge University Press: 19 June 2018
How does ethnoracial demography relate to public goods provision? Many studies find support for the hypothesis that diversity is related to inefficient outcomes by comparing diverse and homogeneous communities. We distinguish between homogeneity of dominant and disadvantaged groups and argue that it is often impossible to identify the effects of diversity due to its collinearity with the share of disadvantaged groups. To disentangle the effects of these variables, we study new data from Brazilian municipalities. While it is possible to interpret the prima facie negative correlation between diversity and public goods as supportive of the prominent “deficit” hypothesis, a closer analysis reveals that, in fact, more homogeneous Afro-descendant communities have lower provision. While we cannot rule out that diversity is consequential in other contexts, our results cast doubt on the reliability of previous findings related to the benefits of local ethnoracial homogeneity for public outcomes.
The authors’ names appear in alphabetical order. An earlier version of the paper was presented at the 2016 annual meeting of the American Political Science Association. We would like to thank our colleagues, editors, and anonymous reviewers who have read and commented on previous drafts of this article. We are especially grateful to Samuel Diaz, Mark Kayser, and Ronald Inglehart for their helpful suggestions, and Joana Naritomi for kindly sharing her data with us. For their useful comments on the previous versions of our larger project on ethnic cleavages and public goods provision, we would also like to thank Rafaela Dancygier, Kosuke Imai, Tali Mendelberg, Grigore Pop-Eleches, Edward Telles, Andreas Wimmer, and Deborah Yashar. All errors and omissions are the sole responsibility of the authors. Replication files are available at the American Political Science Review Dataverse: https://doi.org/10.7910/DVN/AY32JZ.