Kenya, ethnic diversity, and fractionalization scores

Had you taken my Introduction to Comparative Politics class in the fall of 2007, you would have been faced with writing a paper in response to this:

There is much debate regarding the determinants of, and obstacles to, democratization. Are states that rely on natural resources for a large share of their GDP less likely to become and remain democratic? Does ethnic diversity present an obstacle to the democratization and democratic consolidation of a regime? Your term paper will answer one of these two questions either in the affirmative or the negative.

In addition to making the theoretical argument, students were asked to use Iraq and one other state to illustrate and support their argument(s). A few students chose to write on Kenya. I hope they go back and read their papers in light of the current situation in that multi-ethnic state.

Is Kenya ethnically diverse? How can we measure ethnic (or religious, or linguistic) diversity? There is a formula called the fractionalization index, which essentially gives us an idea of how diverse a state is. You can find a table–in Appendix A (which I have excerpted here) of over 100 states around the world with their corresponding fractionalization scores (in three categories), in this National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) paper by Alesina et al. here The higher the value the higher the level of diversity. Notice the relatively low diversity of states like Poland and Norway and the high amount of diversity of almost all African states. Which is the best way to measure “diversity”? Ethnically? Linguistically? By religion?


Country
Date (Ethnicity Data)
Ethnic
Language
Religion
Afghanistan
1995
0.7693
0.6141
0.2717
Canada
1991
0.7124
0.5772
0.6958
China
1990
0.1538
0.1327
0.6643
Croatia
1991
0.3690
0.0763
0.4447
Kenya
2001
0.8588
0.8860
0.7765
Malawi
1998
0.6744
0.6023
0.8192
Mozambique
1983
0.6932
0.8125
0.6759
Nigeria
1983
0.8505
0.8503
0.7421
Norway
1998
0.0586
0.0673
0.2048
Portugal
1998
0.0468
0.0198
0.1438
USA
2000
0.4901
0.2514
0.8241
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