Ethnic and religious intergenerational mobility in Africa



Publishing details

Working Paper

Authors / Editors

Alesina A; Hohmann S; Michalopoulos S; Papaioannou E


Publication Year



We investigate the evolution of inequality and intergenerational mobility in educational attainment across ethnic and religious lines in Africa. Using census data covering more than 70 million people in 19 countries we document the following regularities. (1) There are large differences in intergenerational mobility both across and within countries across cultural groups. Most broadly, Christians are more mobile than Muslims who are more mobile than people following traditional religions. (2) The average country-wide education level of the group in the generation of individuals’ parents is a strong predictor of grouplevel mobility in that more mobile groups also were previously more educated. This holds both across religions and ethnicities, within ethnicities controlling for religion and vice versa, as well as for two individuals from different groups growing up in the same region within a country. (3) Considering a range of variables, we find some evidence that mobility correlates negatively with discrimination in the political arena post indepdence, and that mobility is higher for groups that historically derived most of their subsistence from agriculture as opposed to pastoralism.


Africa; Development; Education; Inequality; Intergenerational mobility


Working Paper