Inequality and Social Identity: Micro-Level Evidence Using a Measure of Perceived Economic Position
Although several theories have it that income inequality shapes social identity formation,there has been hardly any conclusive evidence in large multi ethnic environments. A recent wave of scholarship attributes the absence of such results to the use of objective measures of inequality. Drawing from this strand of the literature, we test the hypothesis that perceived inequality dissipates the sense of belonging to a nation. Employing individual level survey data from 3-7 rounds of the Afrobarometer, we find that individuals reporting higher inequality tend to identify less with their nation vis a vis their ethnicity. The results are robust to accounting for reverse causation as well as to the inclusion of controls and are not driven by unobservables. We get suggestive evidence that violence and negative “sociotropic” evaluations are the mechanisms as to why inequality reinforces sub-national identity.
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