Trickle-Down Ethnic Politics: Drunk and Absent in the Kenya Police Force (1957-1970)

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Alexander Moradi
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CSAE Working Paper 2016-21

Using a panel of 6,784 Kenyan police officers, we show how the rise of ethnic politics encroached on their daily behavior during Kenya's independence period (1957-1970). We find a significant deterioration in discipline after Kenya's first multiparty election in 1961 for those police officers of ethnic groups associated with the dominant KANU party. These effects are not driven by the selection of policemen, as individual officers change their behavior when their ethnic group gains political power. While we find no evidence of favoritism within the police, we show that shocks to political dominance can still change attitudes and job performance.

This paper is now forthcoming at The American Economic Journal: Economic Policy.