Ethnic Cooperation and Conflict in Kenya

There is growing evidence that ethnic divisions and conflict experiences affect social capital and economic interactions in both positive and negative ways. We conduct a set of experiments measuring social capital in Kenya between the two largest ethnic groups, the Luo and Kikuyu, who experienced violence in the 2007 and 2008 post-electoral riots. Our findings indicate trust, coordination, altruism, and cooperation between these groups are not affected by priming people on the ethnic identity of their partners or on the salience of election conflict. Our results suggest electoral violence does not necessarily lead to changes in economic behavior between ethnic groups and that cooperative failure across groups may be easily overstated or might have other mechanisms. These findings are consistent with recent evidence suggesting that experience of electoral violence in Kenya does not correlate with laboratory behavior between the Luo and Kikuyu.

Publication Details

Suggested Citation

Alicia Barriga, Neil Ferguson, Nathan Fiala, Martin Leroch, Ethnic Cooperation and Conflict in Kenya, Journal of Behavioral and Experimental Economics, 2023, 102050, ISSN 2214-8043,


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Neil Ferguson

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