Quarterly Journal of Political Science > Vol 11 > Issue 1

Ethnic Favoritism in Education in Kenya

Eric Kramon, Department of Political Science, George Washington University, USA, ekramon@gwu.edu , Daniel N. Posner, Department of Political Science, University of California, Los Angeles, USA, dposner@polisci.ucla.edu
Suggested Citation
Eric Kramon and Daniel N. Posner (2016), "Ethnic Favoritism in Education in Kenya", Quarterly Journal of Political Science: Vol. 11: No. 1, pp 1-58. http://dx.doi.org/10.1561/100.00015005

Publication Date: 18 Apr 2016
© 2016 E. Kramon and D. N. Posner
Political Economy,  Comparative Politics,  Executive Politics,  The Bureaucracy
Political economycomparative politicsexecutive politicsthe bureaucracy.


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In this article:
1. Data 
2. Empirical Strategy 
3. Results 
4. Why Does Having a Coethnic in a Position of Political Power Matter for Educational Attainment? 
5. Implications 
6. Conclusion 


We test the claim that African leaders favor members of their own ethnic groups by studying ethnic favoritism in the education sector in Kenya. We use data on the educational attainment of more than fifty thousand Kenyans dating back to the colonial era, as well as information about the ethnic identities of Kenyan presidents, cabinet members, and high-level education bureaucrats since the 1960s. Consistent with previous work, we find that having a coethnic as president during one's school-age years is associated with an increase in the schooling that children acquire. In contrast to recent studies, we find that multiparty political competition has no impact on the degree of ethnic favoritism in the education sector. We also go beyond prior work in three ways. First, we show that coethnics of the minister of education also acquire more schooling than children from other ethnic groups — evidence that ministerial appointments come with real power to impact distributive politics. Second, we investigate the effects of coethnicity using different definitions of the president's ethnic community and provide evidence that the beneficiaries of ethnic favoritism can shift with the introduction of democratic electoral competition. Third, we examine several mechanisms through which having a coethnic president might matter and find much greater support for mechanisms emphasizing the supply of inputs to coethnics than those emphasizing the demand by coethnics for greater educational opportunities.