Skip to main content

Tribe or Nation? Nation Building and Public Goods in Kenya versus Tanzania

  • Edward Miguel (a1)

This article examines how government policies affect ethnic relations by comparing outcomes across two nearby districts, one in Kenya and one in Tanzania, using colonial-era boundary placement as a “natural experiment.” Despite similar geography and historical legacies, governments in Kenya and Tanzania have followed radically different language, education, and local institutional policies, with Tanzania consistently pursuing more serious nation building. The evidence suggests that nation building has allowed diverse communities in rural Tanzania to achieve considerably better local public goods outcomes than diverse communities in Kenya. To illustrate, while Kenyan communities at mean levels of diversity have 25 percent less local school funding than homogeneous communities on average, the comparable figure in the Tanzanian district is near zero. The Kenya-Tanzania comparison provides empirical evidence that serious reforms can ameliorate social divisions and suggests that nation-building should take a place on policy agendas, especially in Africa.

Hide All

1 Horowitz, Donald, Ethnic Groups in Conflict (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1985).

4 Karlan, Dean, “Social Capital and Group Banking” (Manuscript, Department of Economics, Princeton University, 2002).

5 Alesina, Alberto, Baqir, Reza, and Easterly, William, “Public Goods and Ethnic Divisions,” Quarterly Journal of Economics 114, no. 4 (1999).

6 Edward Miguel and Mary Kay Gugerty, “Ethnic Diversity, Social Sanctions, and Public Goods in Kenya” Journal of Public Economics (forthcoming).

7 Alesina, Baqir, and Easterly (fn. 5).

8 Alesina, Alberto and La Ferrara, Eliana, “Participation in Heterogeneous Communities,” Quarterly Journal of Economics 115, no. 3 (2000).

9 Jacob Vigdor, “Community Composition and Collective Action: Analyzing Initial Mail Response to the 2000 Census,” Review of Economics and Statistics (forthcoming).

10 Miguel and Gugerty (fn. 6).

11 Lijphart, Arend, “Consociational Democracy,” World Politics 21 (January 1969).

12 Spears, Ian, “Africa: The Limits of Power-Sharing,” Journal of Democracy 13, no. 3 (2002).

13 Fearon, James and Laitin, David, “Explaining Interethnic Cooperation,” American Political Science Review 90, no. 4 (1996).

14 Varshney, Ashutosh, Civic Life and Ethnic Conflict: Hindus and Muslims in India (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2002).

15 Putnam, Robert, Making Democracy Work (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1993).

16 Refer to Prewitt, Kenneth G., Von der Muhll, George, and Court, David, “School Experiences and Political Socialization: A Study of Tanzanian Secondary School Students,” Comparative Political Studies 3, no. 2 (1970).

17 Court, David and Kinyanjui, Kabiru, “Development Policy and Educational Opportunity: The Experience of Kenya and Tanzania,” IDS Occasional Paper, no. 33 (Nairobi: University of Nairobi, 1980).

18 Barkan, Joel D., “Divergence and Convergence in Kenya and Tanzania: Pressures for Reform,” in Barkan, Joel D., ed., Beyond Capitalism versus Socialism in Kenya and Tanzania (Boulder, Colo.: Lynne Rienner, 1994).

19 The ideal research design should not choose districts literally straddling a common border, since border areas might be influenced by the neighboring country, and the existence of these “spillovers” would complicate the interpretation of differences across the districts.

20 Average annual rainfall in Meatu and Busia is approximately 700 millimeters and 1500 millimeters, respectively.

21 Schoenbraun, David Lee, A Green Place, a Good Place: Agrarian Change, Gender, and Social Identity in the Great Lakes Region to the Fifteenth Century (Portsmouth, N.H.: Heinemann Press, 1998).

22 McEwan, A. C., International Boundaries of East Africa (Oxford: At the Clarendon Press, 1971).

23 Government of Kenya, Kenya Population Census, 1989 (Nairobi: Central Bureau of Statistics, 1994); Government of Tanzania, Shinyanga Region Socio-economic Profile (Dar es Salaam, 1999).

24 See Kidamala, Daudi and Danielson, E. R., “A Brief History of the Waniramba People up to the Time of the German Occupation,” Tanganyika Notes and Records 56 (1961); Puritt, Paul, “Tribal Relations,” in Diarra, Fatoumata Agnes and Ghai, Yash P., eds., Two Studies on Ethnic Group Relations in Africa: Senegal and the United Republic of Tanzania (Paris: UNESCO, 1974); and Government of Kenya, Kenya Socio-Cultural Profiles: Busia District, ed. Were, Gideon (Nairobi: Ministry of Planning and National Development, 1986).

25 Abdulaziz, M. H., “Tanzania's National Language Policy and the Rise of Swahili Political Culture,” in Whiteley, W., ed., Language Use and Social Change (London: Oxford University Press, 1971), 171–72.

26 Gorman, T P., “The Development of Language Policy in Kenya with Particular Reference to the Educational System,” in Whiteley, W. H., ed., Language in Kenya (Nairobi: Oxford, 1974).

27 Therkildsen, Ole, “Contextual Issues in Decentralization of Primary Education in Tanzania,” International Journal of Educational Development 20 (September 2000).

28 Koff, David and Von der Muhll, George, “Political Socialization in Kenya and Tanzania: A Comparative Analysis,” Journal of Modern African Studies 5, no. 1 (1967), 50 .

29 A limitation is that the dataset does not contain preindependence information, and since nation-building policies had begun to diverge by 1967 (the year of the Arusha Declaration), it cannot serve as a baseline.

30 For a discussion of preindependence differences, see Court and Kinyanjui (fn. 17).

31 Barkan (fn. 18).

32 For instance, Miles, William F. S., Hausaland Divided: Colonialism and Independence in Nigeria and Niger (Ithaca, N.Y.: Cornell University Press, 1994); and Posner, Daniel, “The Political Salience of Cultural Difference: Why Chewas and Tumbukas Are Allies in Zambia and Adversaries in Malawi” (Manuscript, Department of Political Science, UCLA, 2002).

33 Barkan (fn. 18).

34 Polome, Edgar C., “Tanzania: A Socio-Linguistic Perspective,” in Polome, Edgar C. and Hill, C. P., eds., Language in Tanzania (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1980). David Laitin discusses language policy and nation building in Africa, and the existence of lingua francas that, like Swahili in East Africa, could be employed to strengthen national identities; see Laitin, , Language Repertoires and State Construction in Africa (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1992).

33 Court, David, “The Education System as a Response to Inequality,” in Barkan, Joel D., ed., Politics and Public Policy in Kenya and Tanzania (New York: Praeger, 1984). Mark Gradstein and Moshe Justman present a formal political economy model in which political socialization through public education may promote social cohesion and economic growth: see Gradstein, and , Justman, “Education, Social Cohesion, and Economic Growth,” American Economic Review 92, no. 4 (2002).

36 Court and Kinyanjui (fh. 17), 67.

37 White, John, “The Historical Background to National Education in Tanzania,” in Polome, Edgar C. and Hill, C. P., eds., Language in Tanzania (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1980).

38 Prewitt,Von der Muhll, and Court (fn. 16), 222.

39 Koff and Von der Muhll (fn. 28).

40 Court, David and Ghai, Dharam, eds., Education, Society, and Development: New Perspectives from Kenya (Nairobi: University of Nairobi Institute of Development Studies and Oxford University Press, 1974), 7.

41 Ibid., 19.

42 Court and Kinyanjui (fn. 17), 69.

43 Quantitative evidence from current schoolbooks also suggests that the Kenyan curriculum is considerably less Pan-Afncanist in orientation than the Tanzanian curriculum. As a rough measure of curricular emphasis, we counted the number of times the word “Africa” (or “African”) appears in nine current Kenyan and Tanzanian GHC textbooks for grades 3—6 and found more than twice as many instances in the Tanzanian textbooks (66.5 times per book) as in the Kenyan books (28.6).

44 Abdulaziz, M. H., “The Ecology of Tanzanian National Language Policy,” in Polome, Edgar C. and Hill, C. P., eds., Language in Tanzania (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1980).

45 Ndegwa, Stephen, “Citizenship and Ethnicity: An Examination of Two Transition Moments in Kenyan Politics,” American Political Science Review 91, no. 3 (1997).

46 Court and Kinyanjui (fn. 17).

47 Barkan, Joel D. and Chege, Michael, “Decentralising the State: District Focus and the Politics of Reallocation in Kenya,” Journal of 'Modern African Studies 27, no. 3 (1989).

48 Onyango, Dennis, “How Shall We Detribalise Presidency,” Daily Nation (Nairobi), October 21, 2002 .

49 Afro-Barometer Network, Afro-Barometer Round I: Compendium of Comparative Data from a Twelve-Nation Survey, Afro-Barometer Paper, no. 11 (2002).

50 The other countries are Botswana, Ghana, South Africa, Uganda, and Zambia.

51 Chaligha, A., Mattes, R., Bratton, M., and Davids, Y. D., Uncritical Citizens or Patient Trustees? Tanzanians' Views of Political and Economic Reform, Afro-Barometer Paper, no. 18 (2002).

52 Ibid., 11.

53 In 1996 the original Busia district was split in two: Teso district is the northern part of the original district, and Busia district the southern part; for simplicity, the combined area is referred to as “Busia.”

54 School questionnaires—filled out by schoolmasters with the assistance of a trained enumerator— contain detailed information on school finances, infrastructure, inputs, and pupil enrollment.

55 Government of Kenya (fn. 24).

56 Ethnic diversity (ELF) in the villages with missing data is nearly identical on average to diversity in villages that are included in the sample, and the small difference in ELF (0.16 to 0.13) is not statistically significantly different than zero at traditional confidence levels. Hence, even if the five villages with some missing data happened to be poor performers in terms of local collective action, the inclusion of these villages would be unlikely to substantially change the main empirical results.

57 Government of Kenya (fn. 24).

58 Were, Gideon, A History of the Abaluyia of Western Kenya (Nairobi: East African Publishing, 1967).

59 Morgan, W. T. W, and Shaffer, N. M., Population of Kenya, Density and Distribution: A Geographical Introduction to the Kenya Population Census, 1962 (Nairobi: Oxford University Press, 1966).

60 Government of Kenya (fn. 24).

61 Government of Kenya, Kenya Population Census, 1962 (Nairobi: Central Bureau of Statistics, 1965).

62 Miguel and Gugerty (fn. 6).

63 Mwapachu, Juma Volter, “Operation Planned Villages in Rural Tanzania: A Revolutionary Strategy for Development,” Mbioni 7, no. 11 (1975).

64 It is natural to focus on male residential stability. Since marital exogamy is practiced in this region, most women move to their husband's home upon marriage.

65 Mwapachu(fn. 63).

66 McHenry, Dean E. Jr., Tanzania's Ujamaa Villages (Berkeley: Institute of International Studies, University of California, Berkeley, 1979).

67 Barkan (fn. 18).

68 An alternative explanation for the existence of a stronger national identity in Tanzania could be the successful 1979 war repelling a Ugandan invasion. Although victorious wars have long been credited with promoting national unity, this hypothesis appears unlikely here for at least two reasons: first, the Uganda war lasted only three months, and second, the war led to an exhausting six-year occupation of Uganda that nearly bankrupted the country and contributed to the financial crisis of 1982; see Gordon, D. F., “International Economic Relations, Regional Cooperation, and Foreign Policy,” in Barkan, Joel D., ed., Beyond Capitalism versus Socialism in Kenya and Tanzania (Boulder, Colo.: Lynne Rienner, 1994).

69 Only six of eighty-four sample schools report having received over U.S.$100 in outside funding in the 1996 survey, and U.S.S100 is a low level for schools with three hundred to four hundred students on average. Similarly, a minority of projects in the Tanzanian district received any external central government or NGO assistance, and in many cases the amounts received were modest.

70 Unfortunately, there are no data on income (or consumption expenditures) for the Kenyan villages, so income cannot be included as a control variable in the main regressions.

71 Conley, Timothy, “GMM Estimation with Cross Sectional Dependence,” Journal of Econometrics 92, no. 1 (1999).

72 Wooldridge, Jeffrey M., Econometric Analysis of Cross-Section and Panel Data (Cambridge: MIT Press, 2002).

73 These differences are somewhat misleading: the Kenyan data are for pupils' fathers, while, even though two-thirds of Tanzanian respondents were male and young adults—and thus comparable to the Kenyan respondents—some Tanzanian respondents were women or elderly. Women and the elderly have less education and formal employment than young men on average, and thus actual socioeconomic gaps between the two districts are likely to be somewhat smaller than those reported in Table 1.

74 Religious diversity is not included as an explanatory variable in the analysis since local religious affiliation is not plausibly exogenous due to extensive missionary activity in both districts. Correlations between religious fragmentation and local outcomes would be misleading if evangelical activity is most successful in the poorest areas or in areas with low levels of social capital. The numerical strength of “traditional” religions in Meatu—over 60 percent of the sample—also complicates the interpretation of the religious fragmentation index, since it is difficult to disentangle different traditional belief systems from ethnicity. Finally, since the most politically salient religious cleavage in East Africa is that between Christians and Muslims, the absence of large Muslim populations in these districts blunts the most likely source of religious divisions.

75 Miguel and Gugerty (fn. 6).

76 Ethnic diversity is unlikely to be proxying for higher local income inequality in Tanzanian villages, since the correlation between diversity and inequality is small, negative, and not statistically significant (regression not shown).

77 We attempted to examine analogous issues in the Kenyan district, but data on registered community group membership were only available for part of the study area. Restricting attention to registered community groups is also not ideal, since many groups are not registered in Kenya. The relationship between local diversity and registered group membership in this limited sample is typically negative (not shown), but due to the data limitations mentioned above, we do not highlight the Kenyan results.

78 Alesina and La Ferrara (fn. 8).

79 The correlation between social capital and ethnic diversity is similar in a nationally representative sample of eighty-seven rural Tanzanian clusters, using data from the World Bank's 1995 Social Capital and Poverty Survey (SCPS) and 1993 Human Resource Development Survey (HRDS) (not shown).

80 Miguel and Gugerty (fn. 6).

81 United Nations Development Program, 2002 Human Development Report: Deepening Democracy in a Fragmented World (New York: Oxford University Press, 2002).

* George Akerlof, Abhijit Banerjee, Robin Burgess, Tina Green, David Karol, David Laitin, Dan Posner, Gerard Roland, Shanker Satyanath, and anonymous referees have provided valuable comments. I am deeply indebted to the staff of ICS Africa in both Kenya and Tanzania, the Meatu District Council, the Dutch Rural Development Programme, Alicia Bannon, Elizabeth Beasley, James Habyarimana, Sylvie Moulin, Avery Ouellette, Polycarp Waswa, and especially Melissa Gonzalez-Brenes, Mary Kay Gugerty, and Michael Kremer. Tina Green and Negar Ghobadi provided excellent research assistance. I am grateful for support from the National Science Foundation (SGER-#0213652) and the U.C. Berkeley Committee on Research. All errors remain my own.

Recommend this journal

Email your librarian or administrator to recommend adding this journal to your organisation's collection.

World Politics
  • ISSN: 0043-8871
  • EISSN: 1086-3338
  • URL: /core/journals/world-politics
Please enter your name
Please enter a valid email address
Who would you like to send this to? *


Altmetric attention score

Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 0
Total number of PDF views: 228 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 2174 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between September 2016 - 20th March 2018. This data will be updated every 24 hours.