Article Summary: “Ethnic and Cultural Diversity by Country” by James Fearon


Title: Ethnic and Cultural Diversity by Country
Author: James Fearon
Scope: 3 stars
Readability: 2 stars
My personal rating: 3.5 stars
See more on my book rating system.

Topic of Article

Fearon use statistical analysis to the determine the relative amount of ethnic and cultural diversity for every nation in the world.

My Comments

I would not recommend reading this article. The main points are listed below. If you are interested in a rank-order list of diversity by nation, look at the tables in the last few pages.

Key Take-aways

  • Ethnic diversity in nations is the rule, not the exception.
  • About 70% of nations have a dominant majority group with one or more minority groups.
  • Sub-Saharan Africa has by far the highest levels of diversity in the world. Less than a third of these nations have a majority ethnic group.
  • There are relatively small differences in levels of diversity in the rest of the world.

Important Quotes from Book

We see that about 70 percent of the countries in the world have an ethnic group that forms an absolute majority of the population, although the average population share of such groups is only 65 percent and only 21 percent of countries are 4 ‘homogenous” in the weak sense of having a group that claims 9 out of 10 residents. The average size of the second largest group, or largest ethnic minority, is surprisingly large, at 17 percent.

Turning to regional variation, what is most striking is how much more ethnically divided are the sub-Saharan African countries. With 351 groups coded, Africa accounts for about quarter of all countries but 43 percent of the world’s ethnic groups (larger than 1 percent of population). While the rest of the world’s regions average between 3.2 and 4.7 groups per country, the African countries’ average is greater than eight. The average population share of the largest ethnic group in these countries is 42 percent, less than a majority, in sharp contrast to all other regions. Sub-Saharan Africa has only one ‘ ‘highly homogenous” country (Rwanda, with Hutus at 90 percent), and less than a third have an ethnic majority. A second interesting feature of the regional statistics is how small are the aggregate differences between the countries of North Africa/Middle East, Latin America/Caribbean, Asia, and Eastern Europe/Former Soviet Union. The Western countries are somewhat more homogeneous, and, as noted, the subSaharan countries are considerably more diverse on average. But the rest of the world’s regions show broadly similar ethnic demographies.

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